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India: Letter to the Election Commissioner To Stop Politicization of Armed Forces by Political Parties

by Admiral L Ramdas (retd), 10 March

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Admiral L Ramdas (retd) LARA - RAMU FARM
PVSM AVSM VrC VSM Village Bhaimala
Former Chief of the Naval Staff P.O.Kamarle. Alibag,
Maharashtra Gaurav Puraskar PIN 402201
Magsaysay Awardee for Peace Tel 02141-248711

Tel 02141-248733
Mob 9860170960/ 9422383930

06.03.2019

Shri Sunil Arora,
Chief Election Commissioner of India,
Nirvachan Sadan,
Ashoka Road,
New Delhi – 110001

Sub : Stop Politicization of Armed Forces by Political Parties

Dear Sir,

On behalf of a number of my colleagues from the armed forces veterans, this is Admiral L Ramdas – a former Chief of the Naval Staff – writing to share some of my concerns regarding recent instances of using the Armed Forces for political gains, especially in the aftermath of both Pulwama and the strikes in Balakot and the shooting down, capture and repatriation of an Indian Air Force pilot.

I am sure that you are well aware that the Armed Forces have always prided themselves on belonging to a structure, an ethos and environment which has been both a-political and secular. With elections due 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.

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.

This is completely unacceptable since it has the potential to destroy the very foundations and value system of our armed forces, drawn from the vision, the spirit and intent of the Indian Constitution.

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.

Just as an example of what is happening, please browse through the links below. (The authenticity of these need to be verified at your end.)

An image of the poster posted at Colaba, Mumbai, is also attached. [This was subsequently taken down overnight after a local citizens group raised an objection.]

https://www.jansatta.com/trending-news/social-media-users-troll-bjp-photo-abhinandan-varthman-poster-narendra-modi-leaders-loksabha-election-2019/932815/

Photo of a poster by a political party using the image of serving officer [Photo carried in Jansatta]

Looking forward to immediate action on this matter by the Honourable Election Commission. In the interest of time, I have not circulated this 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.

Thanking you,
Yours Truly,
L Ramdas
Former Chief of the Naval Staff