Stop Parties from Using Armed Forces to Further Their Political Agendas: Veterans Write to President
New Delhi, April 12— More than 150 veterans from India’s Armed Forces have written to President of India, as Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, urging him to direct all political parties that “they must forthwith desist from using the military, military uniforms or symbols, and any actions by military formations or personnel, for political purposes or to further their political agendas.”
Among the 156 signatories to the joint letter are three former Army chiefs - General (retired) SF Rodrigues, General (retired) Shankar Roy Chowdhury and General (retired) Deepak Kapoor, four former Navy chiefs and former Air Force chief NC Suri.
In the letter, the veterans have mentioned several recent remarks or acts of some political leaders, mostly form the BJP, related to the Armed Forces or their operations, including UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s infamous “Modiji ki Sena” remark.
“We refer, Sir, to the unusual and completely unacceptable practice of political leaders taking credit for military operations like cross-border strikes, and even going so far as to claim the Armed Forces to be “Modi ji ki Sena.” This is in addition to media pictures of election platforms and campaigns in which party workers are seen wearing military uniforms; and posters and images with pictures of soldiers and especially of Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, displayed.”
“We believe that you will surely agree that any such misuse of the Armed Forces established under the Constitution of India and under the supreme command of the President of India, would impinge adversely on the morale and fighting efficiency of the serving man or woman in uniform. It could therefore directly affect national security and national integrity,” the veterans wrote.
While appreciating that complaints by some veterans have elicited response from the Election Commission, “we regret to state that these do not appear to have resulted in any substantive change of behaviour and practice on the ground.”
“With the General Elections round the corner, and given the prevailing environment where political parties and candidates seem to be acting in total disregard of the declaration of the ‘model code of conduct’, we fear that such incidents may only increase as polling day draws near.”
The veterans said: “We therefore appeal to you to ensure that the secular and a-political character of our Armed Forces is preserved.”