Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and two party colleagues walked out of a meeting Wednesday of the Standing Committee on Defence following a heated exchange after Gandhi objected to a BJP member’s suggestion on uniforms and the rank structure in the three armed forces.
Gandhi, it is learned, wanted to know why more serious issues were not being taken up with top Army officers, including the Chief of Defence Staff, who appeared before the committee Wednesday.
While the committee was discussing uniforms, Gandhi intervened to say that panel members should not waste the time of top officers discussing issues which should remain within the domain of the armed forces.
It is learned that he suggested members should discuss serious national issues such as the situation at the Line of Actual Control.
The committee, according to the agenda on the official website, was being briefed by representatives of the Ministry of Defence on “An Introduction to the Rank Structure of the Defence Forces including their Uniforms, Stars and Badges”.
When Gandhi spoke on uniforms and badges and said each style and symbol had its own history, committee chairman Jual Oram, it is learned, stopped him from completing his remarks. This had Gandhi protesting and he walked out of the meeting.
Congress members Rajiv Satav and Anumula Revanth Reddy also walked out of the meeting. Opposition members like BSP’s Danish Ali and Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut backed Gandhi.
According to BJP MPs, it was their party’s Rajya Sabha member Lt Gen D P Vats (retired) who, at the committee’s last meeting in which Gandhi was not present, had suggested that members of the defence committee be made familiar with uniforms, ranks and badges of armed forces personnel to avoid embarrassing moments while addressing officers.