Former Indian Navy Chief Admiral L Ramdas has released endorsement emails from former Army Chief General SF Rodrigues and former Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal NC Suri, who denied being signatories to the joint petition to President Ram Nath Kovind against the politicisation of the military in elections.
Both Air Chief Marshal Suri and General Rodrigues had denied any knowledge of the letter and said the letter to the president was fake news. They had also said that the letter had included their names without their consent.
However, Admiral Ramdas has now released the emails from both of them showing how both former service chiefs had given their consent to the joint letter. News website Newscentral24x7 carried the copies of those emails on Friday.
According to the email published on the website, Air Chief Marshal Suri is seen replying to Admiral Ramdas’ email, “I am of the firm view that the Armed Forces must continue to be apolitical and oriented to serve the country through the democratically elected Government. This would be in the larger interest of the country. It is in this context that I endorse the appeal to the Supreme Commander. Air Chief Marshal NC Suri.”
As for General Rodrigues, replying to Admiral Ramdas’ email, he wrote, ” I endorse the appeal to the Supreme Commander. General Dr.S.Rodrigues (Retd).”
The denial of Suri and Rodrigues had prompted Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to launch an attack on the opposition. She had said, ” Two senior officers said they haven’t given consent. It’s worrying that fake letters being signed by vested groups. Condemnable. Rashtrapati Bhawan has also said that they have not received the letter.”
Hurt by their public denials, Admiral Ramdas has once again written to them. His email read, “I was so delighted when I saw both your signatures and endorsements to the letter from the Veterans to the President and Supreme Commander. I had entrusted this task to the able hands of Maj Gen Vombatkere and Maj P Chowdhury since we are away out of the country as of April 8. Visiting our daughter in Singapore.
“I am therefore at a total loss as to why I have just had some inputs to say that both of you disclaim any knowledge of this letter and that you cannot associate yourself with the letter?!”
He reminded both of them about the credibility of their positions as two ex-service chiefs as he concluded, “In the interest of keeping our credibitlity as a responsible group of senior and other veterans – I hope this will clarify the matter and that you will also maintain this to the media.”
The joint letter to President Kovind had read, “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.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his party colleague, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath and BJP President Amit Shah have come under flak from several quarters for seeking votes by invoking the heroics of the armed forces. Adityanath was even rebuked by the Election Commission for his Modi ji ki sena comments, but the national poll body refused to take any punitive action. Modi and Shah have not even faced any censure from the Election Commission.