Former Army chief Gen (Retd) Shankar Roychowdhury on Monday described the political slugfest over the new Army chief’s appointment as “detestable”, saying it was the prerogative of the government to select the chief of army staff.
“It is detestable. You can’t stop politicians from commenting because it is a democracy. Their comments are ill-advised and ill-informed. It is futile to tell politicians not to drag the Army into this”, he told PTI when asked about the controversy over the appointment of Lt Gen Bipin Rawat as the new Army chief.
“It is the prerogative of the government to select the chief of Army staff. All the three names which cropped up in the media – Eastern Army Commander, Southern Army Commander and the vice-chief Lt Gen Bipin Rawat – are the best of the best. They are extremely experienced with total integrity,” he said.
Asked whether the morale of the Army gets affected by such political controversies, he replied in the negative.
“The morale doesn’t get affected. The Army will continue to do its duty but they take note of what has been said. The feeling is always there in their mind. But they know that politicians will always say something to suit their own interests,” Gen Roychowdhury said.
A highly decorated war hero, Gen Roychowdhury fought the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war and the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation war.
A political slugfest broke out over the new Army chief’s appointment by superseding two officers with Congress asking the Prime Minister to spell out the “compelling reasons” for it and the Left questioning the move even as BJP hit back, saying they should not politicise an issue related to the defence forces.