Kolkata: Putting to rest all speculation about his resignation, Eastern Army Commander lieutenant general Praveen Bakshi assured his full support to General Bipin Rawat, who took charge as the new army chief superseding him.
“I convey my best wishes and full support of Eastern Command to Gen. Bipin Rawat on having taken over as the Chief of Army Staff,” Bakshi said on Saturday. He also made it clear that he was not resigning, and even called the new army chief on the phone to congratulate him on taking over the reins of the army, an official said.
Speculation that he may seek premature retirement from service gained ground after he met Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on 21 December and then proceeded on leave after Christmas.
Bakshi was initially the frontrunner for the post of army chief. However, keeping aside the trend of seniority, the government appointed vice-chief of army, lieutenant general Bipin Rawat, a batch junior to Bakshi, as the new chief.
The army commander requested that speculation in media and trolling on social media should stop and everyone should focus on contributing their best to the betterment of the army and the nation.
At a function here on new year’s eve, he greeted all ranks of Army’s Eastern Command and said he would continue to lead the Command with full professional sincerity. He, however, continues to be on leave for the next few days.
First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 16:48 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eastern Army Commander Lt. Gen. Praveen Bakshi finally broke silence on his resignation on Saturday. “I won’t resign. Extending all support to Lt. Gen. Bipin Rawat,” Lt. Gen. Bakshi said, while addressing the officers of Eastern Command via teleconference.This statement by the Lt. Gen. Bakshi comes in the wake of rumours and speculations doing the rounds that he might resign after being superseded by Lt. Gen. Bipin Rawat as the Army Chief.However, the Defence Ministry is yet to consider Lt. Gen. Bakshi’s name for the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) that could happen in the coming year.Lt. Gen. Bakshi is likely to meet Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in January. Sources in the ministry say Lt. Gen. Bakshi could be offered an appointment outside of the military. Lt. Gen. Bakshi was to be leave till January 1. He joined office on Saturday at the Fort William, the army’s Eastern Command Headquarters.
Tue, 27 Dec 2016-11:30pm , Kolkata , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speculation about Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, who has been superseded by Lt Gen Bipin Rawat as the next Army Chief, taking premature retirement heightened on Tuesday after he proceeded on leave.Army sources, however, said Lt Gen Bakshi is on a pre-scheduled three-day leave and is expected to resume duties on December 30, a day before Lt Gen Rawat takes over as the new Army Chief.There has been speculation that Lt Gen Bakshi may take premature retirement. He had recently met Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, fuelling speculation about his possible resignation.
Mon, 26 Dec 2016-08:12pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Keeping the promise made to himself, army chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag visited the world’s highest battlefield Siachen on Monday and interacted with the soldiers posted on the glacier. Suhag’s visit to the Siachen and the 15 Corps on Monday will be the last of his farewell visits to the Commands under him before he retires on December 31.Suhag had said that the first visit he undertook soon after taking over as army chief in 2014 was to Siachen and he wanted his last visit also to Siachen. Though Gen Suhag had wanted to visit Siachen around December 29, bad weather forced him to prepone the visit to the icy heights. Gen Suhag would hand over the baton to his Vice Chief Lt Gen Bipin Rawat at his North Block office on the afternoon of December 31.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lieutenant General Praveen Bakshi met Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar at the South Block in New Delhi on Wednesday in the wake of ongoing controversy surrounding the appointment of Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat as the new Army Chief.The meeting between the two came days after Lieutenant General Bakshi, who headed the Eastern Command, was superseded by Lieutenant General Rawat for the top post.The opposition has questioned the government’s decision and demanded an explanation regarding the appointment.
ALSO READ Army chief Bipin Rawat appointment: Opposition corners govt, BJP says don’t politicise The government has, however, clarified that Lieutenant General Rawat was found best suited to deal with emerging challenges including a reorganised and restructured military force in the north, continuing terrorism and proxy war from the west, and the situation in the North-East.According to Ministry of Defence (MoD) sources, Lt Gen Rawat has tremendous hands on experience of serving in combat areas and at various functional levels in the Indian Army over the last three decades. Lieutenant General Rawat is also known for his balanced approach towards soldiering, compassion and connect with the civil society.
ALSO READ Lt Gen Bipin Rawat is next Army chief, Air Marshal Birender Dhanoa to head Air ForceHe has handled various operational responsibilities in many areas including along the LoC with Pakistan, the LAC with China and in the North-East.
When the Centre chose vice-chief of army staff, lieutenant general Bipin Rawat, to succeed the outgoing Army Chief, General Dalbir Singh Suhag, it overlooked the senior-most officer of the world’s third largest army, lieutenant general Praveen Bakshi. Here’s all you need to know about Bakshi and the possible reasons why he may have been superseded.
National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla alumni:
Bakshi is a graduate of the National Defence Academy, the premier training institute for all military officers. He was later commissioned into the Skinner’s Horse regiment.
Served two army commands
Lt General Bakshi has been at the helm of two major army commands, the Udhampur-based Northern Command and Kolkata-based Eastern Command.
Currently, he is the General Officer Commanding of the Eastern Command, which handles the anti-terror operations in the crucial North East states bordering China, Bhutan and Myanmar. Previously, he was the chief of staff of the Northern Command.
Experience in handling operations and commands:
While Rawat is an infantry officer, Bakshi is an armoured officer. He has commanded an armoured brigade in the Western sector, a division in the deserts of Rajasthan, and army corps in the plains of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, The Economic Times noted.
The Eastern Command chief has also been decorated with the prestigious Ati Vishisht Seva Medal and the Vishisht Seva Medal.
May become first ever chief of defence staff
Media reports suggest that Lt General Bakshi might take over as India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). The proposed position was first mooted after the Kargil War. The CDS would be the one point contact for the defence minister and prime minister on matters of India’s defence security.
First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 17:21 IST
Soon after coming to power in 2014, the Narendra Modi government decided to honour the outgoing UPA government’s announcement on Lieutenant-General Dalbir Suhag’s elevation as India’s army chief. There was much speculation as his predecessor, General VK Singh who had done everything under his power to stop Suhag from getting the top job, was now not only in the BJP, but had been elected to Parliament.
Putting all speculation to rest, Modi decided to honour the well-established convention of the senior-most officer getting the top job and appointed Suhag. But, when it came to the navy, the Modi government overlooked the claims of the senior-most officer — Vice-Admiral Shekhar Sinha — and instead appointed the vice-chief and his junior, RK Dhowan as the Chief of Naval Staff.
But the navy is a smaller arm when compared to the over one million strong Indian Army. Naval supersession did not evoke much comment.
However, two years later the decision to appoint Lieutenant-General Bipin Rawat as the next army chief superceding two highly respected and competent officers, has come as a shock to many in the armed forces. Probably for the first time, two successive chiefs come from the same regiment — Gurkha Rifles.
Interestingly, Rawat’s appointment as army chief comes days after Pakistan appointed General Qamar Javed Bajwa as their new chief, both of them served in Congo as part of the UN Peacekeeping Force under General Bikram Singh, who later became India’s army chief.
Rawat’s appointment has bypassed two senior officers. Lieutenant-General Praveen Bakshi, commander-in-chief, Eastern Command — a highly respected officer, who was seen as a natural successor to Suhag. Across all ranks, the Indian Army looked forward to Bakshi’s appointment because of his exemplary credentials and the enormous respect he commands among both officers and men. The other officer superseded is commander-in-chief, Southern Command, Lieutenant-General PM Hariz, also held in high esteem.
Why did the government supersede two officers to appoint Rawat? The real reason will never be known and the explanation put forward by the government is far from convincing. The government explanation that Rawat has more experience in tackling counter-insurgency and of high altitude warfare sounds pretty facile. After all, no army chief leads formations to battle.
Bakshi, as C-in-C of the Eastern Command, is responsible for all counter-insurgency operations along the China border and in the North East region. He has served armoured brigades in Jammu and Kashmir and the western sector.
At a time when parochial interests dictate many decisions, the appointment of Rawat is bound to keep speculators busy for a long time.
There is media speculation that Bakshi might be in for a more coveted job, that of the CDS or Combined Defence Services Chief, a post which has been debated for several years but no political party has put its final stamp of approval. In a service where seniority was taken as a norm, the government announcement on Rawat is bound to stir regional and sectional interests a lot more. Senior officers are bound to use their regional and linguistic connections to play to the gallery and even lobby regional leaders.
The appointment of Rawat has already stirred a debate on the growing importance of officers from Uttarakhand in New Delhi. This tendency is not healthy for either the Indian Army or the nation to debate on.
Unlike Pakistan, in India, civilian control over the military has long been recognised and firmly established. Appointments and succession are decided by elected governments and accepted by the armed forces quietly. Even the supersession of Lieutenant-General SK Sinha by Indira Gandhi was quietly accepted, except by the general concerned who protested and resigned from the service.
Rawat’s elevation has become politically controversial
While the Opposition has every right to question the appointment the government is in no way expected to explain an executive prerogative. A privilege of the Executive, however, has to be handled with great care when dealing with sensitive appointments like that of the army chief. Historically, there has always been an undeclared war between infantry and armoured corps for supremacy.
In this battle, once again, the armoured corps represented by Bakshi was trounced by the infantry arm of the Indian Army.
First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 08:48 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Facing attack from opposition parties, Government on Sunday justified the appointment of Lt Gen Bipin Rawat as army chief superseding two commanders, insisting that his operational experience and “general dynamism” tipped the scales in the officer’s favour.The Defence Ministry sources also asserted that selection of Army chief is the sole prerogative of the government and it is based purely on merit, irrespective of the Corps to which the officer originally belonged. The “outstanding” track record of Lt Gen Rawat, an Infantry officer, as Commanding Officer of 19 Division in J&K and his familiarity with the functioning of the Army Headquarters and MoD were cited by the Ministry as the reasons for his selection for the top position. The Ministry sources said all officers in the panel of officers in the rank of army commanders are competent and the most suitable is selected”However, it must be emphasised that the prerogative of selecting the most eligible from the panel is that of the government,” sources said.The government of the day takes the final decision choosing the most suitable officer based on various aspects of the security situation in the country and the future scenario, they said, adding in the current environment, counter terrorism and counter insurgency are key issues.”Therefore the background and operational experience of the officers on the panel were considered in depth while selecting the next COAS. “Lt Gen Bipin Rawat fulfills this criteria by virtue of his operational assignments as Commanding Officer of 19 Division in J&K and his outstanding track record, his familiarity with the functioning of the Army HQ & MoD in his capacity as Vice Chief and his general dynamism has also played a role in tipping the scales in his favour,” the sources said.A political slugfest today broke out over the new army chief’s appointment with Congress and the Left asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to spell out the “compelling reasons” for superseding the senior officers even as BJP hit back saying they should not politicise an issue related to defence forces. The Ministry maintained “that the selection is based purely on merit, irrespective of the Corps to which the officer originally belonged”.While Lt Gen Rawat is from the Infantry, Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, the senior most army commander who was superseded, is from the Armoured Corps.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lt Gen Bipin Rawat is next Army chief, Air Marshal Birender Dhanoa to head Air ForceThe Centre on Saturday named Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, Vice-Chief of the Indian Army as the next Army chief, succeeding General Dalbir Singh Suhag. The decision could trigger a controversy as Rawat has superseded Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, who is heading the Eastern Command, and Lt Gen PM Hariz, heading the Southern Command. Read moreTwo more RBI officials held in currency exchange fraud, arrests a big blow to regulatorTwo more officials of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) were arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday for their alleged role in currency conversion fraud cases. Read moreThree soldiers killed in militant attack on Army convoy in J&KMilitants sent a chilling reminder to the Mehbooba Mufti-led government on Saturday when they attacked an Army convoy on the strategic Srinagar-Jammu National Highway at Kadlabal, Pampore, in south Kashmir, leaving at least three army men dead. Read moreCricket prodigy Pranav Dhanawade’s brush with lawFifteen-year-old Pranav Dhanawade from Kalyan, who took the cricket world by storm with his 1,000-run world record knock in a local game in Mumbai in January 2016, was on Saturday detained by the police after he allegedly got into a spat with them on being prevented from practising on a ground being used as a makeshift helipad for a Union minister’s visit to the city. Read moreNo New Year cheer for gay couples as restaurants, bars shut their doorsSame sex couples wanting to ring in the New Year with a bang are in for a rude shock. Not only are high-end bars and nightclubs turning them away, they are actively stating that they will only accept heterosexual couples. Read more
Many senior army officers will not only be surprised but also deeply dismayed at the government’s decision to supersede the Indian Army’s two most senior officers while appointing Lt Gen Bipin Rawat as the next Chief of Army Staff. For, not only has seniority been given the go-by, the two officers who command almost unparalleled professional respect have been humiliated.
Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, the Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern Command, was widely expected to take over as the next chief. Many in the Army looked forward to that eagerly. Not only was he the senior most, he is respected as an exceptional officer.
The officer next in line, Lt Gen PM Hariz, is equally respected as an outstanding professional of rare calibre. He has also been superseded.
General Bakshi had been the Chief of Staff of the Northern Command at Udhampur before he took over as Army Commander in the East. He has had hands-on experience of the current situations on the major fronts on which India faces threats from both Pakistan and China. He was perfectly trained, prepared and suited for the top job.
Some senior army officers have even compared generals Bakshi and Hariz — and Lt Gen BS Hooda, who retired at the end of last month as Commander-in-Chief of the Northern Command — with the exceptional General BC Joshi, who was chief in 1993-94. Some rate Joshi as the best Chief of Army Staff India has had since Field Marshal Manekshaw retired in January 1973.
“It is very rare to have three such extraordinary officers near the top of the pyramid at the same time,” another very senior officer had remarked earlier this year. Now, the country faces the prospect of losing all three officers. For, it is possible that Generals Bakshi and Hariz may resign rather than serve under their junior.
The worst part of this denouement is that it comes at a time when the country faces a huge security challenge from the Sino-Pak axis. It would be a grave error to think the challenge in Jammu and Kashmir is a thing of the past. Militant attacks keep occurring (three soldiers were killed in one of two attacks reported on Saturday). There has been a lot of infiltration over the past couple of years, and unrest in such disturbed districts as Pulwama continues.
To lose three extraordinarily fine top officers at such a juncture is a compromise on national security. More importantly, this could have an adverse effect on morale down the line — particularly in the higher echelons of a force that has been through a lot of hard knocks in the past few months. Both superseded officers are hero-worshipped by many senior officers.
The fact that Lt Gen Hariz is a Muslim is irrelevant in the Armed Forces, which are more inclusive than perhaps any other major national institution. However, given the doubts that hang over the current government’s commitment to the country’s secular ideal, both domestically and internationally, his supersession gives a negative signal.
The greater irony is that this move has come from a government run by a political formation that strongly criticised Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for years after she superseded Lt Gen SK Sinha in 1983. Until now, that was the only time in the life of the republic that the senior most officer in the army was superseded in the appointment of a new chief of army staff.
This sort of thing is far more common in Pakistan, where the army is much more political than the Indian Army has so far been. If supersessions become the accepted and expected norm, officers would tend to invest in relationships with political parties and build other sorts of political alignments in the course of their careers, hoping for rewards.
That would not be good for the army.
It would be even worse for the country.
First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 08:35 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre on Saturday named Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, Vice-Chief of the Indian Army as the next Army chief, succeeding General Dalbir Singh Suhag. The decision could trigger a controversy as Rawat has superseded Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, who is heading the Eastern Command, and Lt Gen PM Hariz, heading the Southern Command.The government also appointed Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, a Kargil veteran, as the next Air Force chief. He will succeed Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, who, along with Suhag, retires on December 31.“Government has decided to appoint Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, Vice-Chief of the Army staff, as the next Chief of Army Staff with effect from the afternoon of December 31,” the Defence Ministry said in a tweet.Sources said Lt Gen Rawat was found best suited among the Lt Generals to deal with emerging challenges, including a reorganised and restructured military force in the north, continuing terrorism and proxy war from the west, and the situation in the North-East.They said Lt Gen Rawat has tremendous hands-on experience of serving in combat areas and at various functional levels in the Indian Army over the last three decades. He has handled various operational responsibilities in many areas, including along the LoC with Pakistan, the LAC with China and in the North-East.According to convention, chiefs of armed forces are announced at least two months in advance, but the delay this time was leading to confusion. Lt Gen Rawat was commissioned in Eleven Gorkha Rifles in December 1978, from IMA, Dehradun, and was awarded the ‘Sword of Honour’.An alumni of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, the Higher Command and National Defence College Courses, Rawat, in his over 35 years of service, was awarded for gallantry and distinguished service.Supersession in the Army is not new. There has not been any such instances in the recent past though. In 1983, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi appointed Lt Gen A S Vaidya as Army Chief superseding Lt Gen S K Sinha, who resigned in protest.In 1972, the Gandhi government side-stepped the very popular Lt General P S Bhagat, one of the handful of Indian Victoria Cross awardees from World War II, who was in line to succeed General (later Field Marshal) Sam Manekshaw.Defence ministry sources said that Lt Gen Hariz had no experience in operational areas in terms of counter-insurgency or seeing action along the LoC.—With inputs from PTI