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regular-article-logo Friday, 21 June 2024

Modi government's rare extension for army chief General Manoj Pande sparks speculation

Sources in the army said this was only the second time such an extension had been granted to the incumbent army chief. In 1975, then army chief General G.G. Bewoor was given a one-year extension by the Indira Gandhi government

Imran Ahmed Siddiqui New Delhi Published 27.05.24, 05:33 AM
Army chief General Manoj Pande.

Army chief General Manoj Pande. File picture

The Narendra Modi government on Sunday granted a one-month extension to army chief General Manoj Pande till June 30, triggering intense speculation about the “unusual” move.

General Pande was due to retire on May 31.

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The announcement comes at a time two senior-most officers after him are due for superannuation in June.

Sources in the army said this was only the second time such an extension had been granted to the incumbent army chief. In 1975, then army chief General G.G. Bewoor was given a one-year extension by the Indira Gandhi government so that the next in line in seniority, Lt Gen Prem Bhagat, retired from service.

“The Appointments Committee of Cabinet, on May 26, 2024, approved the extension in service of Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Manoj C Pande for a period of one month, beyond his normal age of superannuation (May 31, 2024), i.e. up to June 30, 2024, under Rule 16 A (4) of the Army Rules 1954,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

General Pande took over the reins of the 1.2 million-strong force on April 30, 2022. Before that, he served as the vice-chief of the Army Staff. Earlier, he headed the Calcutta-based Eastern Command responsible for guarding India’s frontier with China in the eastern sector.

General Pande was commissioned into the Indian Army in December 1982 in the Corps of Engineers (The Bombay Sappers).

Surprised by the extension, a senior army official said: “This is a very unusual move and has taken everyone by surprise. General Pande had already started his retiring tours to several formations, including his parent Bombay Sappers.”

Former colonel Ajai Shukla posted on X: “What’s cooking here? The govt has approved a one-month extension in service of Army Chief, General Manoj Pande, up to June 30th. Is the govt jockeying to position someone pliable in place? (Bad). Or is the govt postponing the decision for the next govt? (Good).”

In a cryptic post on X, Major General (retd) Birender Dhanoa said: “People want my views, all I have to say is that professionally one guy is as good as the next at this level. The question is how comfortable is the government of the day with whoever is appointed and how beholden will he be to follow the agenda set by others for him?”

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