Indian army chief’s tenure extended for ‘one month’ amid elections

Gen Manoj Pande at a recent function, depicted in a file photo. — AFP

In the midst of its multi-phase general elections, the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to prolong the service term of the Indian Army Chief, Gen Manoj Pande, by an additional month.

Previously, the Indian army commander was scheduled to depart his position on the 31st of May as reported by Indian Express.

“The decision to extend the tenure of Army Chief Gen Manoj C Pande was taken by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet on May 26. This extension will last a month past his expected retirement date, extending his service to June 30. This decision was made in accordance with Rule 16 A (4) of the Army Rules of 1954,” mentioned the defence ministry in an official release as per the same publication.

Gen Pande initially joined service in December 1982 with the Corps of Engineers, known as The Bombay Sappers, and rose through the ranks to become the Vice Chief of the Army Staff before assuming leadership of the vast 1.2 million-member army in April 2022.

This key decision comes at a time when India is in the throes of phased elections, beginning on April 19 and concluding on June 1, with the public eagerly awaiting the election outcomes to be announced on June 4.

According to Reuters, recent observations suggest that Prime Minister Modi has encountered a waning enthusiasm from voters and robust competition from reviving opposition during these critical elections.

The aides report that workers from the BJP’s ideological fountainhead have had to step up their efforts to boost the campaign’s energy.

Notably, there’s been a decline in voter turnout compared to past elections, sparking worry within the BJP ranks that key supporters may not be engaging as expected.

Facing a spirited challenge in several states, Modi’s BJP has had to reassess its strategy as election analysts and financial markets no longer predict an overwhelming victory as before.

As no exit polls can be disclosed before the final voting day on June 1, the performance evaluation of the candidates remains speculative. However, many experts maintain that Modi is likely to secure a majority within the 543-member parliament when the votes are counted on June 4.

— Information sourced from Reuters

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