New Delhi: The Rashtrapati Bhavan sources on Friday, as quoted by news agency ANI, denied receiving any letter supposedly written by veterans to the President against ‘politicisation’ of armed forces in the ongoing Lok Sabha Elections 2019. Hours after the development, three top-ranking defence officers also denied signing a letter written to the President.
While, former army chief Sunith Francis Rodrigues, called reports of him signing the letter fake news, former IAF chief NC Suri said his consent wasn’t sought for the letter. Former Army vice chief Lt General ML Naidu also denied writing the letter.
“I don’t know what it is all about. All my life, we’ve been apolitical. After 42 years as an officer, it’s a little late to change. We in the services have always done what the government in power ordered us, we are an instrument of the state. Anyone can say anything and then sell it as fake news, I don’t know who this gentleman is who wrote this,” Rodrigues was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also hit out at the purported letter and termed the reports of the same as condemnable. “Two senior officers said they have not given consent,worrying that fake letters being signed by vested groups. Condemnable. Rashtrapati Bhawan has also said that they have not received the letter,” she said.
Earlier in the day, media reports had claimed that eight former service chiefs and 148 other military veterans have written to President Ram Nath Kovind.
The signatories of the letter included former Army chiefs General (retired) SF Rodrigues, General (retired) Shankar Roy Chowdhury and General (retired) Deepak Kapoor, former IAF chief Air Chief Marshal (retired) NC Suri, claimed a PTI report.
Three former Navy chiefs Admiral (retired) L Ramdas, Admiral (retired) Arun Prakash, Admiral (retired) Mehta and Admiral (retired) Vishnu Bhagwat also signed the letter, which was sent to Kovind on Thursday, expressing outrage over what they termed using the armed forces for political purposes.
“We refer, Sir, to the unusual and completely unacceptable practice of political leaders taking credit for military operations like cross-border strikes and even going so far as to claim the armed forces to be ‘Modi ji ki sena’,” the veterans wrote.
The military veterans said it was a matter of considerable concern and disquiet among both the serving and the retired personnel that the armed forces are being used to pursue political agenda.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath recently referred to the armed forces as “Modiji ki Sena” at an election rally in Uttar Pradesh, triggering strong reactions from the opposition parties.
The Election Commission too also took strong objection to the comments.
In the letter, the military veterans also expressed disappointment over the usage of photos of Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman and other soldiers at election campaigns.
(With PTI inputs)