Modi led coalition govt avoids major controversy by naming Lt Gen. Upendra Dwivedi as Army Chief

The government is already facing flak over Agniveer scheme, which became a big issue during the general election.
Lieutenant General Upendra Dwivedi
Lieutenant General Upendra Dwivedi

New Delhi: Cabinet Committee on Appointment has decided to appoint VCOAS Lieutenant General Upendra Dwivedi as the next Army Chief. The decision, it is being speculated that, intends to avoid any major controversy as the coalition government has just started functioning under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Army Chief Gen. Manoj Pande, was given a rare one-month extension barely two days before his retirement on May 31. Gen. Pande is the first army chief in 53 years to have secured an extension. This led to a lot of speculation about potential supersession of seniority which is most often followed in choosing top brass in the Armed Forces.

The govt’s decision underpins the Modi government’s intention to maintain stability within the military hierarchy amid political scrutiny over defence policies such as the Agniveer recruitment scheme.

The government is already facing flak over Agniveer scheme, which became a big issue during the general election. The government does not want to create a fresh controversy and give the Opposition an opportunity to corner in the Parliament. Even Janata Dal (United), Chirag Paswan led LJP and other BJP’s allies have flagged the Aginveer scheme as one of the issues that needs serious reconsideration.

Sources claim selecting a military service chief by ignoring seniority would have sent a wrong signal to the military leadership as well as the armed forces fraternity, besides giving fodder to the Opposition.

The government, late on June 11, announced that Lt Gen. Dwivedi would be heading the 1.2 million-strong Indian Army from June 30.

Born on July 1, 1964, Lt Gen. Dwivedi was commissioned into the Indian Army Infantry (Jammu & Kashmir Rifles) on December 15, 1984. During his long and distinguished service, he has served in a variety of command, staff, instructional and foreign appointments. The command appointments include command of regiment (18 Jammu & Kashmir Rifles), brigade (26 Sector Assam Rifles), and inspector general of Assam Rifles (East) and 9 Corps.

Lt Gen. Dwivedi is an alumnus of the National Defence College and the US Army War College. He has undergone courses at the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington and the Army War College, Mhow. He has an MPhil in defence and management studies and holds two master’s degrees in strategic studies and military science.

Before being appointed army vice-chief, Lt Gen. Dwivedi was heading the Northern Command, the Indian military’s most critical command as it tackles both China on the northern front and Pakistan in the west. In the past one year, militant activity south of the Pir Panjal range in J&K has increased manifold, with security forces losing close to 20 personnel.

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