General Bipin Rawat began his tenure as India’s first Chief of Defence Staff by making it clear that the armed forces “stay far, very far from politics“. However, his tenure as Army chief was marked with a series of politically loaded remarks — the latest was on the ongoing protests against the new citizenship law.
“Leaders are not those who lead people in an inappropriate direction. As we are witnessing in a large number of universities and colleges, students, the way they are leading masses and crowds to carry out arson and violence in cities and towns. This is not leadership,” Rawat said while addressing a gathering at a health summit in New Delhi.
In 2018, it was against Assam-based party All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), which he claimed has been growing fast than the BJP in the state.
“I don’t think you can now change the population dynamics of this area. If it was five districts to eight to nine… the inversion has taken place, whichever be the government.”
“There is a party called AIUDF, if you look at… they have grown in a faster time-frame than the BJP has grown over the years. When we talk of Jan Sangh with two Members of Parliament and where they have reached, AIUDF is moving at a faster pace in the state of Assam. Finally, what will be the state of Assam, we will have to take a call,” he said.
The General’s views on matters pertaining to the Army also landed him in controversy.
After the Supreme Court decriminalised gay sex, General Rawat said “we will not allow this to happen in the Army“. Maintaining that the Army is not above the law, he said issues concerning the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) within the forces will be dealt with under various sections of the Army Act.
On the difficulties in deploying women officers at the frontlines, he said: “Our orders are that a lady officer will get a hut in the COB, then there are orders that we have to cocoon her separately. She will say somebody is peeping, so we will have to give a sheet around her.”
General Rawat was commissioned in the Gorkha regiment in 1978, after being awarded the Sword of Honour at the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun. He commanded an infantry battalion along the Line of Actual Control with China, and a Rashtriya Rifles sector in Kashmir as a Brigadier. He commanded an infantry division in Kashmir and a corps in Eastern Command, before serving as the Southern Army Commander and the Vice Chief of Army Staff.
His tenure as Army Chief has seen an attempt to modernise the Army’s way of warfighting by bringing in the concept of integrated battle groups for warfare. He has restructured the Army headquarters and made recommendations for reforming and restructuring the Army, which are yet to be fully implemented. He has seen the standoff with Chinese Army at Doklam and a very active Line of Control with Pakistan where ceasefire violations have reached an all-time high.
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