Stop parties from using military for poll gains: Veterans urge President
New Delhi, Apr 12: Expressing their disappointment, over 150 armed forces veterans, eight former service chiefs have written to President Ramnath Kovind about the use of the military and referring to a recent operation to garner votes in the Lok Sabha election 2019.
The Rashtrapati Bhavan has reportedly denied receiving any letter writer by military veterans over the 'politicisation' of the armed forces.
The letter, made public on April 11, urged President Ram Nath Kovind "to take all necessary steps to urgently 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."
"... we write to bring to your attention, as the Supreme Commander of India's Armed Forces, some concerns which have caused considerable alarm and disquiet among both the serving and the retired personnel of our Forces," the letter said.
"We refer, Sir, to the unusual and completely unacceptable practice of political leaders taking credit for military operations like cross-border strikes," the letter added.
The retired senior officers mentioned Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath referring to the armed forces as "Modiji ki Sena", or "Prime Minister Narendra Modi's army" at an election rally in Uttar Pradesh recently.
The veterans also expressed concern over photos of Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman seen at election campaigns. The Election Commission had asked political parties not to use the images of armed forces personnel in poll campaigns.
Among the signatories are three former Army chiefs (General SF Rodrigues, General Shankar Roy Chowdhury and General Deepak Kapoor), four former Navy chiefs and former Air Force chief NC Suri.
It may be recalled that Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari courted controversy for attending a party rally dressed in military fatigues.
Addressing a rally in Latur district of Maharashtra, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday appeared treading on sensitive ground, as he asked first-time voters to dedicate their vote to those who carried out the air strike in Balakot.
"I want to tell the first-time voters: can your first vote be dedicated to the veer jawans (valiant soldiers) who carried out the air strike in Pakistan. Can your first vote be dedicated to the veer shaheed (brave martyrs) of Pulwama (terror attack)," Modi said.