Ex-Army chief says ‘not to misuse the armed forces’ for political gains

Former Navy chief Admiral L Ramdas (retired) has asked immediate intervention of the Election Commission in stopping political parties from using the Pulwama attack, Balakot air strike and Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s operations to influence the electorate.

In an open letter to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, Admiral Ramdas expressed concerns on “recent instances” of parties using armed forces’ heroics for political gains.

“With elections due in a few weeks from now, it is particularly important that there should not be any misuse of these recent events by any political party to send triumphalist or jingoistic messages which can influence the electorate,” he said.

In his two-page letter, the former Navy chief said the armed forces have always prided themselves on belonging to a structure, an ethos and an environment which have been both apolitical and secular.

“And it is in this context that as a responsible citizen and a proud veteran of the Indian Armed Forces, I share our collective sense of dismay and deep concern at how some political parties are brazenly pushing their agenda using images, uniforms and other examples, showing pictures of the armed forces with political figures, in public spaces, in media, election rallies and so on,” he said.

The former Navy chief said it was completely unacceptable since it has the potential to destroy the very foundations and value system of the armed forces, drawn from the vision, the spirit and intent of the Constitution.

He said he could not circulate the open letter for more signatures “although many veterans are duly agitated by these attempts to compromise the integrity and secular nature of the Indian Armed Forces”.

“We, therefore, urge the Election Commission to immediately intervene and send a strong message to the political parties that there should be no misuse of the photographs as indeed any other material/reports or other information pertaining to the armed forces for electioneering in any way,” he said.

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