FORMER LOK Sabha MP and Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit Sunday triggered a controversy by saying that Army chief General Bipin Rawat was making public statements like a “sadak ka gunda”. Following criticism, he later apologised and withdrew his remarks. In the morning, when asked about his comments on the Pakistan Army chief’s recent tour of the LoC area and his statement that Pakistan will give a befitting reply to India’s actions, Dikshit told ANI news agency on television: “Let them do that. Our Army is strong and ably guards our country. Whenever Pakistan has done something, our Army has given a reply… It’s another matter that the Prime Minister of the day and some people want to shout about this.
Our Army is strong and has always given Pakistan a befitting response. Pakistan can do only one thing. They will do something wrong and then make statements.” “Kharab tab lagta hai ke jab hamarey bhi sthal sena adhyaksh, ek sadak ke, matlab gundey ki tarah apne bayaan detey hain. (I feel bad when our Army chief makes speeches like a street thug)…What’s there in their (Pakistan) Army. Some mafia-type people.
But why does our Army chief also speak in this way. See, we have culture, dignity, depth and strength. We are seen as an example in the world. If we also behave in this way, that makes us small.” Dikshit’s comments drew criticism from the government and BJP, who hit out at him and the Congress. “What’s wrong with the Congress party? How dare the Congress call the Indian Army Chief as Sadak ka Gunda,” Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju tweeted.
The Congress distanced itself from Dikshit’s remarks with party spokesperson Meem Afzal saying, “Our party respects the Army and so does the country. If some words have been used for its chief, it is unfortunate.” Hours later, Dikshit tendered an apology. “I have reservations on a comment of the Army chief, but I should have chosen appropriate words. I apologise,” he tweeted.
He later told The Indian Express that he still believed that the Indian Army chief should not be making unnecessary statements. “His statement today about Pakistan civilian government… what the civilian government should or should not do… that is a civilian government’s prerogative. You have not seen any Indian Army chief making these statements. We have had great army chiefs like K M Cariappa and Manekshaw. They never made statements. These kind of things do not behove the General of the Indian Army. However, my choice of words were wrong… and I have no qualms in apologising,” he said. “I stand by the sentiment of what I was saying. But the words were wrong.”