Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag's name forwarded for new Army Chief

Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag's name forwarded for new Army Chief

Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag's name forwarded for new Army Chief

Notwithstanding objections by BJP, the Defence Ministry is going ahead with the process of appointing the new Army Chief and has recommended the name of Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag to the Prime Minister's Office.

The recommendation of the Defence Ministry will have to be approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, official sources said today.

As per tradition, the government announces the name of services chiefs-designate two months before the retirement of the incumbent.

Sticking to that, it is expected to announce the name of the new Army Chief by May 1, three months prior to the date of retirement of Gen Bikram Singh.

The appointment of incumbent Chief Gen Singh was also done three months prior to the retirement of his predecessor Gen V K Singh, who had a turbulent relationship with the Defence Ministry and even dragged the government to the Supreme Court over his age controversy.

The Defence Ministry has taken the step even though opposition BJP has said the outgoing government should not appoint the new Army Chief and should leave it to the next government that is expected to take over towards the end of next month.

The party has even petitioned the Election Commission to halt the process.

V K Singh, who is now a BJP member and contesting for Lok Sabha from Ghaziabad constituency in Uttar Pradesh, has said the UPA government "should not be in a hurry" to appoint the new Army Chief.

"I don't understand why the UPA is in a hurry to make the present chief ineffective by announcing his successor's name," he has said.

Significantly, during the last days of his tenure as Army Chief, V K Singh had put a 'discipline and vigilance ban' on Lt Gen Dalbir Suhag, then 3 Corps Commander, for the "failure of command and control" as an intelligence unit under him had allegedly carried out dacoity in Jorhat in Assam outside the jurisdiction of the Corps.

The ban was lifted soon after Bikram Singh took over as Army Chief and appointed Suhag as the Eastern Army Commander. Gen Bikram Singh will retire on July 31 after completing a 26-month tenure in office.