MoD spokesperson removed over tweet

MoD spokesperson removed over tweet

The Centre on Friday asked Defence Ministry spokesperson Swaranashree Rao Rajshekhar to proceed on leave after one of her tweets to a former Navy chief angered the veteran community and prompted an inquiry request from a BJP MP.

Army spokesperson Col Aman Anand has taken over as the acting spokesperson of the ministry.

The trigger was a tweet from Swaranashree responding to a tweet from Admiral Arun Prakash — It prompted a reaction by the spokesperson from the official Twitter handle. She replied, “What about misuse of jawans in your residence during an officer’s tenure sir? And how about children being picked up and dropped to school in Fauji (military) gaadis (vehicles)? Not to forget Madam’s shopping expedition on government vehicles. And endless parties...who pays for that?”

Prakash is a highly decorated and respected officer — who exposed the misuse of a military flag by a civilian in his official car in the Army Western Command in Chandimandir.

Within minutes, Swaranashree deleted the tweet and tendered an apology but that wasn’t enough to placate the retired officers and BJP MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar who demanded an inquiry against her.

“You need to be more than worst insensitive bureaucrat to tweet like this. You need to be a world class idiot who should be sent back to paper-pushing or whatever his/her life’s achievement is so far and not destroy goodwill and respect for the Prime Minister and government which has done so much for our armed forces,” said the Rajya Sabha MP.

Several retired officers like Lt Gen K J Singh and Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur criticised the spokesperson for the tweet. However, Admiral Prakash did not hit back.

“Rather than getting excited over indiscreet tweet of @SpokespersonMoD, I would suggest sober reflection; (a) by MoD on state of civil-mil (military) relations and (b) by Military Leadership on the aspersions cast by MoD (IDAS?) civil-servant on personal conduct of Service officers,” he tweeted.

Swaranashree is a Defence Accounts Service officer who was picked up by the Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as the principal spokesperson for the ministry — a post generally held by Indian Information Service officers.

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