REUTERS, 18th DECEMBER, 2016- The Indian government has appointed new heads of its army and air force among a series of senior military and intelligence appointments, officials said,
two weeks before its two most senior defence force chiefs are due to retire.
Vice Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat was named as the new chief of the army to succeed General Dalbir Singh Suhaag.
Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, a fighter pilot, was chosen as the new chief of India’s air force to replace Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha. The appointments were announced on Twitter by a defence ministry spokesman late on Saturday.
The appointment of Rawat, a counter insurgency specialist, raised eyebrows among opposition parties because he was given the job ahead of two more senior candidates.
“Why has seniority not been respected in appointment of Army Chief,” Manish Tewari, a former government minister and leader of the opposition Congress party, said on Twitter.
The appointment was also questioned by Communist Party of India leader D. Raja, but a spokesman for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said it was not a matter for political debate.