Defence Ministry Allows BJP Yuva Morcha's Convention In Cantonment, Army Veterans Raise Questions
The Ministry of Defence has found itself in the midst of another controversy. BJP’s youth wing, the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BYJM) has been granted the permission to hold its national convention on October 27 and 28 at the Bison Polo Ground(Parade ground) in Secunderabad Cantonment in Hyderabad, as reported by The Quint. The convention is being held in preparation for the national elections in 2019.
“The upcoming ‘Atal Yuva Maha Adhiveshan’ in Hyderabad will further strengthen the party at the grassroots level as booth and mandal-level workers are invited to it,” said national media in-charge and ‘Prabhari’ (in-charge) BJYM, Jammu and Kashmir, Rohit Chahal as reported by Moneycontrol.
The letter allowing BJYM to hold the convention on the Parade ground
The permission letter, dated October 13, is signed by the General Officer Commanding of the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. However, it mentions that the land has been “allotted for the subject event (the Morcha convention) by MoD (ministry of defence)”. A copy of the letter has also been sent to the Telangana BJP President Dr K Laxman by the Army.
The letter also carries a list of Dos and Don’ts on the parade ground during the event, which includes a strict prohibition from carrying out any construction or digging activity in the premise, to make sure that “only inescapable erections are made” and to make sure that the no environmental degradation of the land happens. The letter also adds that post the event, the ground would be required to be restored to its “original condition with appropriate cleanliness at your cost”.
As reported by The Telegraph, an official from the Defence Ministry said that the while it was an old practice of allowing political events in Army cantonment areas, they were, however, restricted only to the civilian areas. Several Army veterans have said that an Army parade ground cannot be termed as a “civilian area” and that it is ridiculous to host such events there.
Ex-Servicemen express strong resentment towards the move
The decision to hold a political event in the non-civilian area of the Army cantonment has found strong opposition from several Army veterans. Many have taken to social media to express their displeasure over the same.
Retired officer Major DP Singh, who is also known as India’s first blade runner, through a tweet has asked Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to “put a check”.
Here starts another degradation of #IndianArmy
Madam @nsitharaman May pls put a check.
1 side forces r being used2clean up spoiled things due2 misuse/corruption by civilians
On the other hand things kept intact are being opened 4 their use.
— Major D P Singh (@MajDPSingh) October 13, 2018
Another Army man, Rohit Agarwal tweeted that it was wrong to use cantonment areas for holding political rallies.
Holding political rallies inside a Cantt is WRONG.
The designs behind opening of Cantts becoming clearer…..
And we have impotent senior officers who don't dare to take a stand
Disgusted…….@nsitharaman @adgpi pic.twitter.com/5ubF8L5hOI
— Rohit Agarwal (@ragarwal) October 14, 2018
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor tweeted asking “since when has the Indian Army become a wholly owned subsidiary of the BJP”.
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) October 14, 2018
Tharoor’s colleague, Congress MLA Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted that BJP has been a “habitual offender” in using armed forces for its own gains.
In an unprecedented move, Modi Govt’s Defence Ministry has granted permission to BJP’s youth wing (BJYM) for holding a political rally on Defence grounds in Secunderabad. Why?
BJP is a habitual offender in using Armed Forces for cheap political gains.
This must be resisted. pic.twitter.com/xJxjJXpijZ
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) October 14, 2018
The Logical Indian take
The Indian Armed force prides in itself for being a force devoid of any political affiliation and always maintaining a neutral stand. It is also highly desirable that such a stance is always maintained, considering the nature of the job, where they simply cannot afford being divided on any lines. With this new development, not only this very value of the Indian Army seems to be under threat, but it also sets a very wrong precedent. Using the Army or its property for political gain is unethical and should not be encouraged.