Congress says Chief of Defence Staff can upset civil-military relations

General Manoj Mukund Naravane takes charge as Chief of Army Staff in the presence of Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat in New Delhi on Tuesday (December 31). Photo: PTI

The fresh debate seems to be brewing on the powers of the newly installed Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and the scope of his office. The government had appointed outgoing Army chief General Bipin Rawat as the first CDS.

The opposition Congress had stated that the CDS would create a new power centre and the office would defeat the very purpose of strategic integration of forces for operational purposes.

Also read: On last day as Army chief, Rawat thanks soldiers for support

Taking the attack forward, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari, in a series of tweets on Tuesday (December 31), expressed his apprehension. He said the appointment was fraught with difficulties and ambiguities and the government had started ‘on a wrong foot.’

He wanted to know if the advice of the CDS would override that of the service chiefs. Also, he said, the Principal Military Advisor would be rendered redundant with the appointment.

Another question the Congress puts forth is the role of the CDS in relation to the Defence Secretary. The party sought to know if the three service chiefs would report to the Defence Minister through the Defence Secretary or the CDS.

Also read: CDS will need maturity to overcome resistance from Services, bureaucracy

More clarity has also been sought on the mandate of the Department of Military Affairs.

Manish Tewari said in his last tweet that India was moving along a ‘portentous path’ and the appointment of the CDS could affect civil-military relations, which, he says, has been ‘India’s singular success since 1947.’

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