Veteran officers of the armed forces of India on Monday slammed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his “won’t need army” remark during his Tamil Nadu campaign. In a statement, the decorated veterans said that they were “shocked” and “deeply hurt” by Gandhi’s statement.
The former Congress president, in a triggering remark, had said: “If you use India’s labourers, farmers, workers, you will not need the Army, Navy and Air Force to be standing over there. China will not have the guts to come inside.”
“We have the highest regards for Indian farmers, workers and labourers. They are the core strength of our economy, and the backbone of India. We salute them for their contribution to nation building. However, the Armed Forces of India are also a very dedicated, highly trained professional outfit with exceptional world-wide reputation, which can be casually undermined by irresponsible leaders only at a grave cost of lurking danger to the security of our motherland,” the veterans stated.
“The statement about the redundancy of Indian Armed Forces would have been ignored, being naive and far from truth, just like the imaginary Nehruvian utopia that failed us against China in 1962, but seeing the misleading affect it could have on the future generations of our country, we have decided to put things in correct perspective. We certainly do not want a weak India suffering from misplaced and off-tangent notions of any of its leaders,” they said.
Demeaning statements like the Indian Army, Navy and the Airforce are dispensable not only seriously demoralise our men in uniform, but also derogatory to the Armed Forces of the Nation, who have never hesitated to make the highest sacrifices to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Nation, the decorated veterans said. Further, they said that such “ill-advised” statements show serious inadequacy in threat perception that India is facing round the clock from enemies from outside as well as within some parts of the country.
The decorated veterans also demanded an apology from Rahul Gandhi and promise to remain “discreet” in referring to the armed forces in future.
“We sincerely request Rahul Gandhi, who has made the above statement, to render an apology to our bravest men and women in uniform, and, to further promise to remain discreet in referring to the Armed Forces in future as it affects the morale of the Armed Forces and presents a highly distorted and misconceived picture of the role of the India Armed Forces to the people of India,” they said.
The statement was undersigned by Lt Gen Gurmeet Singh, Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha, Air Marshal S.P Singh, Air Marshal P.K Roy, Air Marshal R.C Bajpai, Lt Gen Sanjay Kulkarni, Lt Gen Arvind Sharma, Lt Gen Arun Sahni, Lt Gen Himalaya Singh, Lt Gen Ashok Kumar Choudhary, Lt Gen K.H Singh, Lt Gen Nitin Kohli, Maj Gen G.D Bakshi, Maj Gen Dhruv Katoch, Maj Gen S.P Sinha, Maj Gen P.K Sehgal, Maj Gen Sanjay Soi, Maj Gen S.N Kashid, Maj Gen S.K Kalra and Air Vice Marshal P.K Srivastav.