Vice admiral Robin Dhowan, who has been asked to officiate as the Navy Chief, is the frontrunner to succeed Admiral D K Joshi as the government starts the process of appointing a new officer to lead the force.
The sudden departure of Joshi, who had 18 months of service left, has created an unusual situation for the Navy, upsetting calculations that certain officers would make it to the top.
Sources said the government’s choices for a new chief are limited by seniority to three or four officers but Dhowan would be the top contender, although in terms of seniority Western Naval Commander Shekhar Sinha is the most senior after Joshi.
However, since a bulk of the accidents have taken place under his command, his promotion is unlikely. Sinha’s appointment as the Western Naval Commander was itself controversial as previous Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma is said to have opposed it. But he got the post after Joshi succeeded Verma.
Dhowan, who is second in the seniority list, is said to be well versed with the functioning of the Navy in a position where he shadows the naval chief. While he retires in May, he will get an extension of age and will serve as chief for two years if he is picked.
The third officer in contention with an outside chance is Eastern Naval Commander Vice Admiral Anil Chopra.
Kiran Bedi tried to establish her credentials as a secular, pro-women candidate.