Congress hits out at Modi’s choice for India’s first Chief of Defence Staff

Urvi Bhatt
December 31, 2019 |

New Delhi: Within minutes of General Bipin Rawat being appointed India’s first Chief of Defence Staff, the Congress party questioned the decision by the Narendra Modi government.
Congress Lok Sabha MP from Punjab and spokesperson Manish Tewari said in a tweet, “With great regret and fullest of responsibility may I say that the Govt has started on a very wrong foot with regard to CDS. Time alone, unfortunately, will reveal the implications of this decision.”

General Bipin Rawat has been appointed India’s first Chief of the Defence Staff, the principal military adviser to Defence Minister and head of the new Department of Military Affairs.
The government announced that General Bipin Rawat, who demits office as Army Chief on December 31, has been appointed Chief of Defence Staff from the day after, that is, Tuesday. He will hold the post till 65 years of age which will be March 31, 2023.
Last week, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram slammed the Army Chief for his remarks on protesters opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act. The Congress leader said, “Mind your own business” while addressing a rally on the party’s foundation day which was organised by the Kerala Congress. Chidambaram also alleged that the Army Chief and DGP of UP have been asked to support the government which is a shameful act. The Congress leaders have slammed the army chief for his political comments. “Now the Army General has been asked to speak up, is it the job of the Army Chief?” Chidambaram asked.
The Cabinet Committee on Security had, in a landmark decision last week, approved the creation of the CDS who will act as the principal military adviser to the defence minister on all matters relating to tri-services. A key mandate of the CDS will be to facilitate restructuring of military commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing about cooperation in operations. As the CDS, General Rawat will also helm the newly created department of military affairs. The tri-service agencies, organisations and commands relating to cyber and space will be under the command of the CDS, and he will also function as the Military Adviser to the Nuclear Command Authority. The CDS will also be member of Defence Acquisition Council chaired by the defence minister and Defence Planning Committee chaired by the NSA.
A high-level committee set up to examine the gaps in the country’s security system in the wake of the Kargil war in 1999 had called for appointment of a CDS as a single-point military adviser to the defence minister. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the creation of the CDS post in his Independence Day speech this year.
General Rawat assumed charge as Chief of Army Staff on December 31, 2016. He was to retire on Tuesday from the service. Before becoming the Army Chief, he handled various operational responsibilities in many areas, including along the LoC with Pakistan, the LAC with China and in the Northeast.
Last week, General Bipin Rawat drew criticism from the opposition parties after he publicly criticised people leading protests over the new citizenship law, saying leadership is not about guiding masses to carry out arson and violence across the country. There were also sharp reactions from activists and military veterans who accused him of making political remarks, thereby compromising the long-held convention in the Army of not wading into political matters. In his three-year tenure as Army Chief, he has faced allegations of not remaining politically neutral.