Newly-appointed Chief of the Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat on Wednesday said the armed forces stay away from politics and work as per the directives of the government of the day, remarks that come amid criticism that the forces were being politicised.
Last week, as Army Chief, Rawat had publicly commented on the protests against Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens, saying those leading protests, including students, were guiding the masses into carrying out “arson and violence”.
Rawat had said, “Leaders are not those people who lead people in inappropriate directions, as we are witnessing in a large number of university and college students, the way they are leading masses of crowds to carry out arson and violence in our cities and towns. This is not leadership.”
The Hindu observed that it was unusual for a serving Army Chief to comment on the country’s internal affairs. Several opposition leaders had sharply criticised the comments.
Congress’s MP from Thrissur TN Prathapan had written to the President asking him to sack Rawat “for this very serious breach of discipline”.
The CPI(M)’s politburo issued a statement saying, “Army Chief’s statement underlines as to how the situation has degenerated under the Modi government where the highest officer in uniform can so brazenly breach the limits of his institutional role.”
On Wednesday, Rawat said that his focus as CDS would be to integrate the efforts of the three services and to work as a team.
“We keep ourselves away from politics. We act according to the directives of the government of the day,” he said.
Rawat said his focus would also be to ensure the best and optimal use of resources allocated to the three services.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed the creation of the Department of Military Affairs and institutionalisation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff were momentous reforms. Congratulating Rawat on his appointment, Modi said he is an outstanding officer who has served India with great zeal.