The appointment of Lt. Gen. Dalbir Singh Suhag as the next Army chief will not be affected by the change of government, new Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday. The BJP had strongly opposed the UPA government for elevating Lt. Gen. Suhag to the top post.
“Well, I believe that there should be no controversy or issue about the appointment of any person. Some comments may have been made about the conduct and procedures of the process. It is not going to have any effect on any person concerned in any manner,” he told reporters in New Delhi.
Mr. Jaitley, while taking charge of the Defence Ministry, was asked to comment on the opposition by the BJP during the elections on the appointment of Lt. Gen. Suhag as the next Army chief.
The BJP had questioned why the UPA government was rushing to appoint him as the Army chief when the incumbent was going to retire only on July 31, 2014. It had even moved the Election Commission seeking directions to stop the government from making such key appointments.
Former Army chief Gen. V.K. Singh, who is now a Union Minister, was in the forefront of questioning the UPA government on this issue.
He had contended that Lt. Gen. Suhag did not have “vigilance clearance” in a dacoity case.
Gen. V.K. Singh, as Army chief, had put a ‘Disciplinary and Vigilance’ ban on Lt. Gen. Suhag when he was the 3 Corps Commander two years back. The ban, which prohibits a promotion, was lifted immediately after Gen. Bikram Singh took over on May 31, 2012.
“What and whom are they trying to protect? What are the Defence Ministry and UPA-II scared of?... This harms the individual as people will question the UPA’s motive,” Gen. V.K. had said.
Gen. Bikram Singh is retiring on July 31 and the Manmohan Singh government had appointed Lt. Gen. Suhag on May 14, two days before the election results were announced.