Editorial

Politics of uniform

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 5/8/2019 12:20:18 PM IST

 Never has there been any election in the past when a ruling party boasts about its military achievements and attributing them to its leader, in this case, prime minister Narendra Modi. The only time a similar occasion happened was after the 1971 Indo- Bangladesh war when Pakistan was thrashed and 90,000 of its soldiers captured in just 13 days by India. Then prime minister Indira Gandhi was hailed even by the opposition as a decisive and bold leader. Indira had defied the American warning and likely Chinese intervention by okaying the invasion of East Pakistan. The Congress party had hailed Indira Gandhi for her bold and decisive act but the government acknowledged the stunning victory on the military leadership of then Army Chief General (later Filed Marshal)S.H.F.J.Manekshaw.That is the difference between the polity then and today. By invoking the surgical strikes including the air attack on Balakot against Pakistan, the BJP has claimed an extraordinary credit for these military actions. It was dismaying to see how the armed forces were being used to fight elections. Even the photos of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman and photos of other soldiers were blatantly displayed by political parties during election campaigns. This trend was started by the BJP which sought to project itself as patriotic to the core. This was copied by other parties who did not want to be left behind. In March, Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party chief Manoj Tiwari was seen reciting a poem about Varthaman during the launch of BJP’s Vijay Sankalp bike rally in New Delhi. Tiwari was dressed in Army fatigues. Also, the Balakot “revenge” theme has repeatedly surfaced in the election speeches of several BJP politicians inviting only a mild rebuke from the Election Commission. However, the Election Commission (EC) had to step in to ask political parties to “desist from displaying photographs of defence personnel”. This came against the backdrop of a picture showing a hoarding with images of Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman as well as leaders of the BJP during an election campaign. Abhinandan became a celebrated hero overnight when he was released from Pakistani captivity after his plane was shot down inside PoK. On the other hand, the same BJP which also took credit for the heroism of the pilot officer saw no offence in slandering the memory of 26/11 hero and ATC chief late Hemant Karkare of the Maharashtra Police. Instead of sending his officers, late Karkare led the fight against Pakistani terrorists and died a hero. The anguish felt by the citizens of the country at the descent of political discourse and rhetoric is justified. Using the armed forces to fight election has potentially dangerous consequences for a nation that takes great pride in the neutrality of its service personnel. In fact, this trend is taking Indian towards a dangerous path. Then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had put matters in perspective when he said that surgical strikes were not conducted by any political party but that those at the helm only gave the go ahead and that any credit for surgical strikes go to every Indian including those “doubting Thomases.” Claiming any credit for the achievements of the military is also an insult to the officers and men as it suggests that the uniformed personnel need politicians to lead them. Such a scenario existed in the era of military despots and civilian dictators.

 

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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