It is for the government to decide on new Chief
The announcement of Lt General Bipin Rawat as the next Chief of Army Staff, superseding two seniors, must have befuddled the army which must be wondering if this will now be the policy. The government is well within its rights to choose an officer as the Chief of the Army Staff. But the convention of appointing the senior-most commander – barring two occasions, in 1973 and 1983 – had come to be accepted as the policy. On the two previous occasions when officers were superseded, the Prime Minister was Indira Gandhi. Although the Congress has questioned the choice of Gen Rawat as the Army Chief, it is for the governments to set a precedents.
However, in naming Gen Rawat, the government has risked not only throwing the seniority principle out but may have also further sharpened the professional rivalry between the infantry and other arms of the force. The government has taken a decision as its prerogative and the nation must move on.