–BJP lawmaker says it’s worrying that ‘fake letters’ are being signed by ‘vested groups’
Over 150 retired India military officers, including eight former chiefs of the army, navy and air force, have written to the president urging him “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”.
Speaking on similar lines, former IAF chief Air Chief Marshal (retired) NC Suri also claimed he was misquoted. “My consent has not been taken for any such letter. I don’t agree with whatever has been written in that letter. We have been misquoted,” he said.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters that it was worrying that “fake letters” are being signed by “vested groups”.
“Two senior officers said they have not given consent, worrying that fake letters being signed by vested groups. Condemnable. Rashtrapati Bhawan has also said that they have not received the letter,” she was quoted as saying by ANI.
The open letter, which has been copied to the Chief Election Commissioner, asks the President “to ensure that the secular and apolitical character of our Armed Forces is preserved”. It states that notifications issued by the Election Commission to UP CM Adityanath on the matter “do not appear to have resulted in any substantive change of behaviour and practice on the ground”.
The military veterans have referred 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”.