Former Indian Navy chief, Admiral L Ramdas, has written an open letter to the Election Commission of India, urging the poll body to stop the politicisation of armed forces in this year’s Lok Sabha polls.
In his letter to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, Admiral Ramdas wrote, “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.”
He added, “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.”
Admiral Ramdas said that he was compelled to write the letter because as ‘a proud veteran of the Indian Armed Forces’ he was concerned how some political parties were ‘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,’ he said adding that this practice 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.”
Admiral Ramdas said that many high-ranking veterans shared similar concern and were ‘agitated by these attempts to compromise the integrity and secular nature of the Indian Armed Forces.’
The BJP has been desperately trying to use the Indian Air Force’s air strikes in Balakot to win the Lok Sabha polls. Leading the pack is Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has mentioned or referred to Balakot incident in almost every single election rally since the Indian planes carried out the air strikes last month.
BJP MP Manoj Tiwari had recently faced flak for taking part in an election rally by wearing an army uniform.