New Delhi, April 25 (IANS) BJP leader Subramanian Swamy Friday urged President Pranab Mukherjee not to approve the appointment of a new army chief, arguing that its timing will “politicise” the office and “demoralise” the armed forces. “The timing of this proposed announcement will, inter alia, ensure the chief of the army staff (COAS) office is politicised and the armed forces demoralised,” Swamy said in a letter to the president.
Swamy’s letter came after the Bharatiya Janata Party had Saturday moved the Election Commission to ask the government to put all major appointments on hold till a new government takes over.
The BJP’s move came amid speculation that the government was determined to announce the name of Lt. Gen. Dalbir Singh Suhag as the next army chief.
Swamy said in his letter that the United Progressive Alliance government’s “endeavour to announce the next COAS (chief of Army staff) is in direct contravention to the established convention, both in terms of time frame and also with regards to certain ongoing investigations that are currently before the judicial system.”
Without taking any names, Swamy said in the letter that the “outgoing government seems intent on fostering upon the nation its handpicked choice of army chief” in complete disregard of “ethics and conventions.”
“It is widely believed by the rank and file of army that the appointment is being pushed through ahead of time at the behest of powerful `arms purchase and commission lobbies. What makes it worse is the fact that designated officer, the favourite in controversial UPA line of succession is only chief to be who is not even a PSC (passed staff college),” Swamy said in his letter.
Referring to Lt. Gen. Suhag, Swamy claimed that the officer was being “pushed up the chain of command is also evident from the inaction taken by the UPA government to shield the officer.”
“On at least two ocassions, he has come under a cloud and on both times he has been `exonerated’ by people who themselves were in the direct chain of command and should have logically been his co-accused. The DV (discipline and vigilance promotion) ban, issued by the previous COAS was hastily revoked and the post of army commander kept vacant for him, a move that defies logic and is being contested in the Supreme Court,” Swamy said.
Former army chief Gen. V.K. Singh had slapped a discipline and vigilance promotion ban on Lt. Gen. Suhag for “abdicating responsibilitya while dealing with a December 2011 operation by an intelligence and surveillance unit in Jorhat, Assam as the then commander of III corps. The ban was revoked by the present army chief, Gen Bikram Singh.
Gen V.K. Singh is now the BJP candidate from the Ghaziabad Lok Sabha constituency.
Swamy referred to “Jorhat case” in his letter.
He said the findings of a subsequent court martial that convicted all the accused officers and men in the Jorhat case completely vindicated the DV ban and raised questions about its revocation.
He also noted that the Guwahati High Court had “adversely commented on the subsequent cover up”.
Referring to the situation in the northeast, Swamy said the “the Jorhat case has a direct bearing on the implementation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFPSA).”
Hoping that the president will put an end to the speculation of “illegally-timed appointment,” Swamy said the next government should be allowed to choose the next army chief.
“We owe it to the next government to make that choice,” he said.
In its representation to the Election Commission, the BJP had said the government was considering the appointment of a new army chief and also hastening the process of selecting the Lokpal.
The party had said that these were not “desirable trends in a healthy democracy”.