In a boost to the BJP ahead of fourth phase of elections, seven retired officers of the armed forces, including two former deputy chiefs of the Army, joined the BJP on Saturday. Welcoming them into the party, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the presence of such senior ex-servicemen who have served the nation would benefit the party.
"They can guide (the party) on policies on national security and nation building," the Defence Minister added.
Lieutenant General JBS Yadav and Lieutenant General S K Patyal, the former deputy chiefs of the Army, were among those who joined the party. Apart from the two, former director general of military intelligence Lt. Gen R N Singh, former director general of the Army's information services, IT Lt. Gen Sunit Kumar, Lt. Gen Nitin Kohli, who has served as the signal officer-in-chief at the Army headquarters, Colonel R K Tripathi and Wing Commander (retd) Navneet Magon, a former Air Force medical services doctor have all joined the party.
"Ex-soldiers too want to serve the country. We may have retired but we are not tired," Yadav told reporters. He said the country is in "safe and able hands" of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Earlier this month, former vice chief of the Army Lieutenant General Sarath Chand had joined the BJP. He had retired as vice chief of Indian Army on June 1 last year.
Besides the military veterans, several celebrities, including film stars and sportspersons like actor Sunny Deol, singer Daler Mehndi, cricketer Gautam Gambhir had joined the BJP since the announcement of the dates of the parliamentary polls by the Election Commission. The party has fielded Deol from Gurdaspur in Punjab and cricketer Gautam Gambhir from east Delhi in the Lok Sabha seat.
Lok Sabha elections 2019 are taking place in seven phases and counting will be held on May 23.