Updated: December 27, 2019 8:09:44 am
Army Chief General Bipin Rawat on Thursday came under fire from Opposition leaders after he criticised people leading protests against the new citizenship law. While Congress leaders accused him of undermining civil-military relations, the CPM asked whether India is going the Pakistan way of “politicising the military”.
Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury tweeted, “Army Chief’s remark on CAA is highly objectionable, unethical and beyond his remit, he is appeared to be a BJP leader who is going to be promoted or rewarded as cds. Rawat needs to be restrained to maintain the impartiality of our army”.
“Since when have Army Chiefs started commenting about internal affairs? It undermines civil-military relations whose cornerstone is that Armed Forces neither comment or interfere in domestic politics. This has been our singular success going back to 1947,” former Union minister and senior Congress leader Manish Tewari said.
Former Union minister Yashwant Sinha said, “There are many ways in which democratic norms are being destroyed in India. But Army Chief Bipin Rawat wading into the current political controversy is a new low. Must be nipped in the bud.”
Referring to General Rawat’s remarks that leaders are not those who lead masses to carry out arson, senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh tweeted, “I agree General Saheb but also leaders are not those who allow their followers to indulge in genocide…Do you agree with me General Saheb?”
The Congress did not make an official statement. Asked about the Army Chief’s remark, party spokesperson Ajay Maken, who was addressing a press meet at AICC headquarters, said, “Well, he is Army chief and we would desist from making any comments on his statement.”
The CPM was scathing. In a statement, the party said the “Army Chief’s statement underlines as to how the situation has degenerated under the Modi government where the highest officer in uniform can so brazenly breach the limits of his institutional role”.
“It is, therefore, necessary to raise the question as to whether we are going the Pakistan way of politicising the military. Such obnoxious interference in matters of democratic struggles from top-ranking military professionals is unheard of in the history of independent India,” the CPM said and demanded that the Army Chief apologise to the nation “for his indiscretion which has extremely adverse ramifications for the Constitutional arrangement in the country”.
It also demanded that “the government takes note of such a breach and censures the General”.
In Hyderabad, AIMIM chief and Lok Sabha MP Asaduddin Owaisi said the Army should not interfere in civilian issues and argued that the right to protest was a fundamental right.
“If whatever Army chief says is true, then I want to ask the government, our Prime Minister writes in his website that he participated in the struggle during the Emergency as a student… according to him (Rawat) that is also wrong,” Owaisi said.
Responding to the remark, activist-politician Yogendra Yadav said, “I agree with him. Yes, leaders should lead (people) in the appropriate direction. I am absolutely sure, he has the prime minister of this country in mind when talking about that.”
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