The Centre is yet to announce the successor of India’s first chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat, a month after he was killed in a chopper crash in Tamil Nadu. A top government source told CNN-News18 that the process had begun but will take time. “We are not in a hurry. Things have been so busy that there has been no time to deliberate on a name,” the source said.
Asked how much time it could take to name Gen Rawat’s successor, the source did not offer any definitive timeline but said, “In the end, it is the PM and the raksha mantri (defence minister) who will clear the name of the next CDS.”
There has been much speculation in military corridors that a retired officer could be picked. The source, however, ruled out the possibility saying, “The rules right now allow for a serving officer only.”
Media reports have suggested army chief Gen MM Narvane is a frontrunner for the post as he is the seniormost officer in the Indian armed forces right now. He has also assumed responsibility of the powerful chiefs of staff committee (CoSC) after Gen Rawat’s death. The CoSC comprises the three service chiefs with the CDS as its permanent chairperson. Gen Naravane, who took over from Gen Rawat as army chief on Dec 31, 2019, will retire in April 2022.
Gen Rawat was killed in a helicopter crash in Coonoor on December 8, along with his wife Madhulika Rawat and 12 other defence personnel. A tri-services inquiry has submitted its report to defence minister Rajnath Singh, but the Indian Air Force is yet to release an official statement on the cause behind the crash. Top government sources have said the crash was an “error of judgement”, while many reports have said there was no technical glitch or sabotage.