Thursday 26 May 2022
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Satyavrat Chaturvedi embarrasses Congress

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New Delhi: Member of Rajya Sabha and senior Congress leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi surprised his party by supporting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s decision on the selection of Army Chief. Chaturvedi stated that this selection was a matter of national security, conventionally made in the best interest of the country. He said that politics should play no role in the appointment of defence personnel. He said while seniority is an important factor in the selection process, qualification and other factors play a role in the selection process.

Chaturvedi made these statements within days of the Congress’s criticism of the government’s decision to appoint Lt Gen as the next Army Chief. He felt that Lt Gen Rawat’s operational experience and proven track record must have made him favourite for this position.

The government took flak from other opposition parties, too, for choosing Lt Gen Rawat over two senior officers — General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Command Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi and General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Southern Command Lt Gen PM Hariz.

Satyavrat ChaturvediChaturvedi, a long-time parliamentarian from Madhya Pradesh, is known for expressing his views openly. In an interview with an online news portal in June, he had made critical comments on his party for poor accountability and lacklustre administration within. He had remarked about the dire conditions within Congress party in comparison to how it shined during the Nehru era and, thus, badly needed a facelift of its public image. He had also vocally expressed his dissatisfaction with Digvijaya Singh’s performance as Chief Minister in Madhya Pradesh and targeted him for being responsible for the debacle of Congress in his State.

In the context of Chaturvedi’s previous harsh observations about his own party, it is noteworthy to observe that his opinions on Army Chief’s selection are in stark contrast to that of his party’s senior leaders. Indian National Congress (INC) spokesperson Manish Tewari had expressed his disapproval on this selection on Twitter.

On Sunday, the government issued a clarification stating that the required procedures have been duly followed for the appointment of Chief of Army Staff (CoAS). it further maintained that this selection process was purely merit-based and all officers in the rank of Army Commander were considered regardless of the corps to which they belonged.

Reportedly, Lt Gen Rawat has a wealth of experience in counter-insurgency, faced combat situations, handled operational responsibilities along LoC with Pakistan and LoAC with China. After 1983, this is the first time an army officer has been promoted as the CoAS, overriding seniority.

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