Former Navy Chief Ramdas denounces Rawat's comments

Last Updated 26 December 2019, 15:47 IST

Five days before he retires, Army chief Bipin Rawat on Thursday courted controversy with remarks that were seen as critical of the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests, drawing strong disapproval from veterans and political leaders for his “indiscretion”.

“Leaders are not those who lead people in inappropriate directions, as we are witnessing in a large number of university and college students, the way they are leading masses of crowds to carry out arson and violence in our cities and towns. This is not leadership,” Rawat said addressing a health summit here.

“A leader is one person who leads you in the correct direction. Gives you the right advice and then ensures that you care for the people you live,” the outgoing Army Chief said.

Former Navy chief Admiral L Ramdas strongly disapproved General Rawat's remarks and pitched for the neutrality of the armed forces.

“Armed Forces have been apolitical and should continue to remain apolitical,” Ramdas said.

“There is no role for the soldier in CAA negotiations. It is everything to do with civil governance. Best left to politicians and Babus,” Vice Admiral J S Bedi (retd) said.

The Army Chief is set to retire on December 31 and is seen as a frontrunner for the post of the Chief of Defence Staff, a single-point military adviser to the government. The government had on Tuesday approved the creation of the CDS, almost two decades after it was recommended.

Congress refrained from commenting on the army chief's remarks from its official platform. But several leaders such as Digvijay Singh, Manish Tewari and Brajesh Kalappa reminded General Rawat that his remarks were not acceptable in a constitutional democracy.

“Since when have Army Chief’s started commenting about internal affairs. It undermines Civil-Military Relations whose cornerstone is that Armed Forces neither comment or interfere in domestic politics. This has been our singular success going back to 1947,” Tewari said.

CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury unequivocally condemned the Army chief's remarks on “democratic struggles” and sought an apology.

“We urge that the General apologises to the nation for his indiscretion which has extremely adverse ramifications for the Constitutional arrangement in the country. We also demand that the government takes note of such a breach and censures the General,” the CPI(M) Polit Bureau said in a statement here.

AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said leadership was about knowing the limits of one's office. “It is about understanding the idea of civilian supremacy and preserving the integrity of the institution that you head,” he said responding to the army chief's remarks.

(Published 26 December 2019, 13:24 IST)

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