After it was announced that Lt Gen Manoj Pande will take charge as the 29th Chief of the Army Staff after incumbent Gen MM Naravane retires on April 30, former Maharashtra Chief Minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Devendra Fadnavis on Monday said it was a proud moment for Nagpur and Maharashtra.
Taking to Twitter, he wrote, "Very proud moment for Nagpur & we all Maharashtrians ! Lieutenant General Manoj Pande ji appointed as new Chief of Army Staff (COAS) of the Indian Army. Many congratulations!"
Lt Gen Pande, currently serving as the Vice Chief, will become the first officer from the Corps of Engineers to take charge of the 1.3-million-strong force as the position has been held so far by officers from infantry, artillery and armoured regiments.
"The government has appointed Lt Gen Manoj C Pande, presently Vice Chief of the Army Staff, as the next Chief of the Army Staff with effect from the afternoon of April 30," the defence ministry said in a statement on Monday.
The government followed the principle of seniority in appointing Pande to the top post as he is the senior-most officer in the Army after Gen Naravane.
Before taking charge as Vice Chief of Army Staff on February 1, Lt Gen Pande was heading the Eastern Army Command that takes care of guarding the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh sectors.
Officials said the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the appointment of Lt Gen Pande as the next Army Chief.
Lt Gen Pande is taking charge of the Army at a time when the government has been focusing on tri-services integration through the setting up theatre commands to effectively deal with myriad security challenges.
(With PTI inputs)