Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh on Friday said Defence minister Manohar Parrikar should be removed immediately for “not withdrawing” his ministry’s circular which purportedly downgraded the status of armed forces vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts. “Equating a civilian principal director with a major general (in place of the earlier brigadier rank officer), a director-ranked officer to a brigadier and a joint director to a colonel was tantamount to putting the army officers below par with the civilian officials,” he said in a statement.
If the government wanted to give sops to the bureaucrats it could have found some other way of doing it instead of “demeaning and demoralising the armed forces,” Amarinder said. Notably, the Defence ministry, Thursday, said that there had been no down-gradation or any change in the existing equivalence of the Service ranks vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts.
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He dismissed as “senseless” the MoD’s attempt to defend the move as “only for matters of assigning duties and functional responsibilities.” “Functional responsibility is part of the ranking system in any organization or department, including the armed forces, and by trying to draw a distinction between the two, Parrikar has once again proved himself to be devoid of any understanding of the way the armed forces function,” Amarinder alleged.
“Parrikar does not deserve to hold the sensitive portfolio of India’s defence ministry and should be unceremoniously removed with immediate effect,” he said. The Lok Sabha MP said, “The ministry’s decision to stick to its orders has come as a shock to the armed forces, which had been hoping for withdrawal of the notification after Parrikar on Tuesday promised to correct any discrepancy.”
Lashing out at Parrikar, Amarinder said, “He has been playing games with the armed forces and has done everything in his power to chip at their morale, without realising the implications it can have on the nation’s security and integrity.” “…he (Parrikar) cannot be allowed to remain the Defence Minister,” Amarinder said, demanding immediate intervention by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to prevent the issue from snowballing out of control.
“Remember that it’s national security that’s at stake,” he said, adding the way the armed forces were being treated by Parrikar’s ministry was “shameful to the extreme”. While on the one hand, the government was all praise for the surgical strikes across the LoC, on the other the MoD was “systematically and deliberately destroying armed forces’s morale,” he alleged.
If the prime minister fails to take prompt action against Parrikar, he will have to “pay the price” for it, the PPCC chief said, adding if the current resentment in the forces over the new ranking goes out of control, even Modi will not be able to “reverse the tide”.