Defense minister Nirmala Sitharam broke out in an interview with ANI over the letter submitted by the veterans on the ‘politicization’ of the Indian Army in the Lok Sabha elections by the ruling party. The defense minister said that the credibility of the appeal made by more than 150 veterans was lost after the senior retired official named in the latter denied giving consent to it or signing it.
Nirmala Sitharam said that more than 150 veterans wrote a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind urging him to take actions to direct all political parties to desist the use of military, military uniforms, symbols, pictures, any action by military personnel as a part of their political campaign.
The two veterans, Air Chief Marshal NC Suri and former Army Chief General SF Rodrigues denied that they did not sign the letter or approve it. While speaking to ANI, SF Rodrigues said that army works on the orders of the government in power and they are apolitical. “People spread fake news and I do not know who has written this letter,” SF Rodrigues said.
Nirmala Sitharam told the ANI that her views regarding the politicization of the Indian Army were totally against the move, However, she said, that highlighting the strong political will that led to such reverted attacks on the culprit does not amount to the politicization of the Indian Army.
Defence Min on if she agrees with sentiment expressed in letter to Pres, by Armed Forces: After all credible professional force does its job dispassionately, I fully concede that. But without political will, without freedom to act when they think fit, would it have been possible? pic.twitter.com/biHECxV1LR
— ANI (@ANI) April 17, 2019
She said that she believes that it is not wrong if the government is highlighting the tough decision taken by it in the crucial hours of terrorism. The defense minister also mentioned the URI attack in 2016 that did not come at the time of election but had the same intention as that of the Balakot Airstrike after Pulwama.
In her interview, she said, “Should the government not put its views over the decisions it takes? Government must have a clear mindset to stand up to defend the sovereignty of the country and thus talking about the armed forces which were a result of their political will does not contribute to the politicization of the Armed forces.” She said that without the political will, it was not possible to carry out such armed attacks with a free hand. She alleged that after the 2008 attack, no counter-attack happened.
The defense minister also told ANi that people in the south and all over the country have applauded Balakot and URI. These attacks have made them hope for a terrorist free India. With this political will, people have started looking upon us. She said that in Kerala, where people have always been unaware of the army and armed forces, youth has developed an interest in joining the Indian Army after Balakot.