A day after the BJP moved the Election Commission to bar the government from appointing the next Army Chief, the Defence Ministry Sunday denied reports that it had recommended the name of Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Dalbir Singh to the Prime Minister’s Office for appointment as the next Army Chief, describing them as “totally baseless”.
However, sources said the technical process for the appointment was in the final stages with the file reaching the ministry on Saturday. While the technical process is complete, a political decision on going ahead with Dalbir Singh’s appointment to the top post is still to be taken.
The denial comes at a time when the appointment of the next Army Chief has courted controversy with the BJP raking up the matter and cautioning the government against making such high profile appointments till the conclusion of the elections.
While the ministry denied that the recommendation for a new chief had been sent to the PMO, sources said the names of three senior-most officers, with Lt Gen Dalbir Singh’s name at the top, were being evaluated.
The government had, as per the protocol, initiated the process for the selection of a new chief a few weeks back and necessary clearances have been obtained of all three officers being considered. The ministry is moving as per the process and is set to recommend the name of Dalbir Singh, who by being the senior most is likely to be the successor of Gen Bikram Singh who retires in July.
Last year, the appointment for the new chief was announced three months in advance. Accordingly, the appointment this year could be made by May 1 before elections get over and new government comes in place.