This Article is From May 13, 2014

Despite BJP's Protest, Government Will Name New Army Chief: Sources

New Delhi: The most senior leaders of the Congress, including the Prime Minister and party president Sonia Gandhi, met this evening and reportedly decided to appoint a new chief for the Indian army. General Bikram Singh retires on July 31.

The Opposition BJP has said the lame-duck government does not have the authority to make such an important decision. But the Election Commission told the government again today that it is within its rights to select the next Army Chief. Results of the election are due on May 16. (India Sets New Record for Voter Turnout at Over 66%)

Traditionally, the Army Chief is chosen two months before the incumbent vacates office.   Sources say Congress leaders wanted to follow the conventional timeline and signal that politics cannot leave the army rudderless.

"Dr Singh's government is going to demit soon. I leave it to their judgement of political propriety to decide whether it is right," said the BJP's Ravi Shankar Prasad. The stand of following convention to name the new chief is "just a smokescreen," alleged General VK Singh, former Army Chief and now a BJP candidate.

The Congress core group decided to proceed with naming the new chief as it met today after voting ended for an election that is expected to deliver a walloping to the party. The BJP, led by Narendra Modi, is expected to get the most seats. (Track LIVE updates)

The Press Trust of India reports that the Defence Ministry has recommended Army Vice Chief Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag for the top post. (Election Commission Gives Nod to Government to Appoint New Army Chief)

In a note to the Defence Ministry today, the Election Commission reiterated the posit that appointments and purchasing of equipment for the defence forces are exempt from the model code of conduct which bans the government from making important policy decisions or allocating key offices once elections are announced.