In the race towards the Lok Sabha 2019 elections, political parties have strapped themselves up for a ride full of electoral campaigns and rallies, speaking over which, former Navy chief, Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas has appealed to the Election Committee to prevent the "misuse" of Indian Armed Force for electoral gains by politicising them.
In a letter, he shared his "concerns" over the recent instances of using Armed Forces for political benefits, especially in the aftermath of both Pulwama terror attack and the IAF strikes in Pakistan's Balakot and the shooting down, capture and repatriation of an Indian Air Force pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan.
He said, "I am sure that you are well aware that the Armed Forces have always prided themselves on belonging to a structure, an ethos and environment which has been both a-political and secular.
"With elections due a few weeks from now, it is particularly important that there should not be any misuse of these recent events by any political party to send triumphalist or jingoistic messages which can influence the electorate," he added.
The former Navy chief went on to say that he shares a "deep concern" as to how political parties are "brazenly pushing their agenda" by using uniforms and photographs of armed forces with political figures, in media, rallies and public spaces. He shared his concerns of how this has a "potential to destroy" the foundation and value system of Armed forces scripted by the Indian Constitution.
Through his letter he urged the Election Commission to instantly intervene, sending a stringent message to political parties from misusing Armed Forces for electoral benefits.
Here is the letter:
On behalf of a number of my colleagues from the armed forces veterans, this is Admiral L Ramdas – a former Chief of the Naval Staff – writing to share some of my concerns regarding recent instances of using the Armed Forces for political gains, especially in the aftermath of both Pulwama and the strikes in Balakot and the shooting down, capture and repatriation of an Indian Air Force pilot.
I am sure that you are well aware that the Armed Forces have always prided themselves on belonging to a structure, an ethos and environment which has been both a-political and secular.
With elections due a few weeks from now, it is particularly important that there should not be any misuse of these recent events by any political party to send triumphalist or jingoistic messages which can influence the electorate.
And it is in this context that as a responsible citizen and a proud veteran of the Indian Armed Forces, I share our collective sense of dismay and deep concern at how some political parties are brazenly pushing their agenda using images, uniforms and other examples, showing pictures of the armed forces with political figures, in public spaces, in media, election rallies and so on.
This is completely unacceptable since it has the potential to destroy the very foundations and value system of our armed forces, drawn from the vision, the spirit and intent of the Indian Constitution.
We, therefore, urge the Election Commission to immediately intervene and send a strong message to the political parties that there should be no misuse of the photographs as indeed any other material/reports or other information pertaining to the armed forces for electioneering in any way.
Looking forward to immediate action on this matter by the Honourable Election Commission. In the interest of time, I have not circulated this open letter for more signatures, although many veterans are duly agitated by these attempts to compromise the integrity and secular nature of the Indian Armed Forces.
Yours Truly, L Ramdas (Former Chief of the Naval Staff)