Union Minister of State for External Affairs General (Retired) VK Singh on Thursday said that anybody who claims the Indian Army is the army of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not only wrong, but also a traitor to the country.
Singh made the remark in an interview with BBC Hindi, but later claimed the journalist had falsified his remarks.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath had on April 1 said at a rally in Ghaziabad: “The Congress government used to serve biryani to terrorists and Modi ji’s army sends bullets and bombs their way.” Ghaziabad is Singh’s Lok Sabha constituency. The Election Commission of India on Wednesday issued a notice to Adityanath for this remark.
“Which army are we talking about?” Singh told BBC in an apparent reference to Adityanath’s remarks. “Are we talking about the Indian Army, or the army of political workers [of the BJP]? I do not know the reference here. If somebody says the Indian Army is the army of Modi, he is not only wrong, but a traitor. The Indian Army belongs to India, not to any political party.”
“If you want to talk about the Indian Army, talk about the Indian Army,” he added. “If we talk about political workers, we can call it Modi’s army or the BJP’s army. But there is a difference.”
Singh said the Indian Army is impartial and has always been apolitical. “I do not know who has spoken this way [that the Indian Army is Modi’s army],” he said. “There may be one or two people who think like this because they have nothing to show for themselves.”
The former Army chief also denied that ex-Navy Chief L Ramdas and former Northern Command head General DS Hooda had said that the Army was being politicised. “He [Ramdas] did not say the Army is being politicised],” Singh said. “He said it seems the accomplishments of the Army are being used for political gains. DS Hooda said this should not happen.”
Ramdas had said that he will approach the Election Commission against Adityanath’s remarks. “The armed forces do not belong to any one individual, they serve the country,” he said. “Till the polls get over, the Chief Election Commissioner [Sunil Arora] is the boss. I am going to approach the Election Commission in this regard.” He also said Army veterans and those still part of the Armed Forces were upset with Adityanath’s remarks.
On March 7, Ramdas had written a letter to the Election Commission, urging it to prevent the use of the Indian Armed Forces by political parties to influence the electorate.
However, Singh denied that the release of movies on surgical strikes, or the presence of jawans in posters is politicisation of the Army. “There was a movie called Prahaar, against terrorists, many years ago,” he said. “If I put up a banner saying that I want to pay tribute to the 44 jawans who have been killed, is it politicisation? Those who say it is should go back to Class 1.”
The former Army chief also attacked the Opposition for its “commentary” on the Indian Army. “These are not questions about the Army,” he said. “If I say that I am doubting you, I am doubting your character, your integrity. Do you not trust the Army? If you don’t trust them, who will you trust?”
“Rahul Gandhi made a very beautiful tweet,” Singh said sarcastically. “He said I congratulate the Defence Research and Development Organisation [for the launch of the anti-satellite missile], and I wish the prime minister Happy World Theatre Day. This is a low-down mentality. Just because you want to attack Modi, you say whatever you can.”