Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh on Thursday hit out at Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar over his remarks on the selection of the Chief of Army Staff, saying the remarks were not only “uncalled for but an insult” to two top army commanders. Talking to media persons in New Delhi after a group of ex-servicemen extended support to the Congress ahead of the Punjab Assembly polls, Amarinder said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Parrikar had been repeatedly “betraying” the defence forces with their apathetic attitude to the problems of the servicemen and the ex-servicemen.
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He said from the issue of ‘one rank, one pension (OROP)’ to 7th Pay Commission and downgrading of army ranks, the armed personnel and ex-servicemen had, time and again, been “humiliated” by the Defence Ministry headed by Parrikar, and the minister’s comments on appointment of the Army Chief were virtually the last straw.
“If Parrikar can’t keep his mouth shut on such matters, it’s time the PM chooses a man fit enough to look after our services, which are the last bastion of stability, secularism, and in whom the country across the board takes pride,” Amarinder wrote in a Facebook post.
Noting that “an ill-informed” defence minister was a “dangerous thing” to have, Amarinder said that Parrikar should be aware that the services function on the rank structure, which indicates seniority and which was customary in the services to be maintained.
Referring to Parrikar’s comment that intelligence inputs were also considered while taking the decision on appointment of the Army chief, the state Congress chief asked if that meant that Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi and Lt Gen P M Hariz also had some aspersions cast on them by the intelligence inputs. He said in a statement that both were outstanding army commanders and soldiers of repute, and “these foolish off-the-cuff remarks were an insult” to them. Bipin Rawat has been appointed the Chief of Army, superseding the two senior officers.