Even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has charged the UPA Government with being in a hurry to make key appointments before May 16, the day scheduled for the declaration of results, one of the leaders of the ruling combine has cautioned it not to act hastily in appointing the next army chief.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Tariq Anwar said Tuesday: "I personally feel that it would have been better if they had left the decision to the new government. There is no need to rush. The appointment of a new army chief is a very important decision and it will be better to take a well thought out decision." Anwar's cautious suggestion comes soon after the defence ministry had sought the Election Commission's (EC) approval for recommending the name for the post of new army chief in the wake of the BJP's opposition, given that it was supposedly restricted by the model code of conduct.
The BJP and other parties have said that while they have no problem with the appointment of anew army chief, it might not be wise to take such a crucial decision in a hurry. "We do not have any problems if they are in a rush to make routine appointments in the remaining two to three days of their tenure. But it is better if they do not make any blunders or take any hasty decisions," said BJP leader, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
The defence ministry has reportedly forwarded the name of Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCAS) Lieutenant General Dalbir Singh Suhag to the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) for clearance to be the next army chief. Once the approval is given, Lt. Gen. Suhag is expected to take over from present army chief General Bikram Singh, who retires on July 31. Communist Party of India leader D. Raja said: "You can't have an army without a head and the army chief has to be appointed at the right time. You can't have an ad-hoc arrangement or, you can't have army without a head. Always the army postings are done on the basis of seniority and other criteria."
On Monday, the EC said that appointments, promotions and procurements of the defence forces do not come under the model code of conduct. The Congress Party has said that its government has the right to function on its own till the last day of its term. "We feel that till the government is in rule, it keeps on working on its processes. And, this government is also doing the same," said Congress party leader, Meem Afzal.