Time to end debate over one-month extension given to Army Chief

New Delhi, Jun 13 (IANS): In what seems like a well orchestrated plan, some critics are continuing with their tireless attacks on the BJP-led NDA government for giving a one-month extension in service to Chief of the Army Staff General Manoj Pande by labeling it as an "unusual move" even though Modi 3.0, right at the start of its third consecutive term, has appointed Lt. Gen. Upendra Dwivedi as the next COAS with effect from the afternoon of June 30.

On May 26, the Appointments Committee of Cabinet approved General Pande's one-month extension beyond his normal age of superannuation - May 31, 2024 - up to June 30 under Rule 16 A (4) of the Army Rules 1954.

Creating controversy out of thin air, many so-called 'experts' on defence matters tried to shape a particular narrative around the government's decision, speculating that there could be plans in store to break the succession line by ignoring the seniority principle.

On the other hand, it was quite clear that the Modi government was not keen on going ahead with the process for appointment of a new Army chief considering that the country was in the midst of Lok Sabha elections.

The appointment of Lt. Gen. Upendra Dwivedi, presently serving as Vice Chief of the Army Staff, as the next COAS on Tuesday should have quelled all the rumours but many entities, which had earlier consistently tried to influence the voter mindset, continue with their deliberate propaganda by demanding an explanation from the government on the entire extension issue.

They also fail to recall that, in May 2014, it was the BJP which had protested the decision made by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet headed by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to appoint Lt. Gen. Dalbir Singh as the next Chief of Army Staff, insisting that it should be the new government which should have the right to choose the next COAS.

The Election Commission of India then stated: "The Model Code of Conduct is not applicable to any matter pertaining directly to the defence forces, be it the recruitments/ promotions for defence forces, all service matters pertaining to them, defence purchases of all kinds, tenders relating to the matter of the defence forces and consequently no reference need be sent to the Commission pertaining to model code in these matters".

The BJP, it seems, has stood firm on its stance for the last 10 years, which also explains the one-month extension given to General Manoj Pande.

The government led by PM Modi has also worked extensively over the last decade to create more synergy among the three Services.

Late Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat, also India's first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), played a key role in taking forward Prime Minister Modi's vision of ushering in more synergy in procurement, training and operations of the Tri-Services through joint planning and integration.

At the same time, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has successfully led the massive initiative of indigenisation of defence technology to achieve the aim of 'Make in India, Make for the World', making it clear that the country has to become self-reliant in defence manufacturing in order to become a military power at the global level.

In an interview with IANS last month, Defence Minister Singh stated that defence will take a pivotal lead as India sets its vision on becoming 'Viksit Bharat' (developed India) by 2047.

"I don't want to say that we will reach the top position in defence exports soon. However, we will try our best to achieve that. Not only in defence, but also in other sectors. We want India to grow exponentially. I want India to become a world superpower, not to attack or take control of any country, but for the well-being of the world," said Singh.



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Title: Time to end debate over one-month extension given to Army Chief

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