Storm brews over UP CM Yogi Adityanath’s ‘Modiji ki sena’ remark, poll body seeks report

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New Delhi | Published: April 2, 2019 10:17:24 AM

At a Meerut rally in Uttar Pradesh the previous week, PM Modi too had remarked that he has the courage to conduct ‘surgical strike’ on land, in the air and even in space.

Adityanath, Lok Sabha Elections 2019, Indian Army, Narendra Modi, Surgical Strikes Balakot, Surgical Strikes URI, ASAT, Mission Shakti, gorakhmpur, meerut, ghaziabadUttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath (Express Photo by Gajendra Yadav)

A massive row has erupted over Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath referring to the Indian Army as ‘Modiji ki Sena’ (army of Prime Minister Narendra Modi) at a rally on Sunday. The Election Commision has taken cognisance of the remark and sought a report by Tuesday afternoon, Election Commission spokesperson Sheyphali Sharan told news agency, PTI.

The BJP’s firebrand leader had made the controversial remark in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad on Sunday as he accused the Congress party of being soft on terrorists during the UPA’s regime.

“The Congress government served biryani to terrorists and Modi ji’s army sends bullets and bombs their way,” he is heard saying in the video shared by news agency, ANI.

Adityanath has drawn criticism from all corners of the Opposition for his comments. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee on Monday termed Adityanath’s comments shocking, tweeting, “Such blatant personalisation and usurping of our beloved Indian Army is an insult and a humiliation.”

“They are a great asset of our nation and not a cassette of the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party].” The Trinamool Congress president also asked the citizenry to “stand up and reject this statement”.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot too criticised the remark by Adityanath. He said on Monday, “The nation is proud of its Armed Forces. They belong to all of us and are not ‘Modi ji ki sena’. BJP should respect our Armed Forces and stop politicising their valour and sacrifices.”

Priyanka Chaturvedi, Congress spokesperson called the remark an insult to the armed forces. She said on Twitter, “They are India’s Armed Forces not the private army [of Modi]. Adityanath must apologise.”

D Raja, a senior leader of the Communist Party of India, condemned the remark and urged the Election Commission to ‘take disciplinary action against Adityanath, said a PTI report.

He said, “This is a clear way of intimidating the voters and creating a fear psychosis in their minds. How can the defence forces belong to one political party?”

READ ALSO | ‘Separate PM for Jammu and Kashmir’: Omar Abdullah says opposition free to distance from his remark after PM Modi’s offensive

Several defence personnel also expressed their vexation at the comment.

“Every political leader must know and understand that the Indian Army serves only the government of the day, whoever that government may be. It is not anybody’s private army,” former Army Chief General Shankar Roychowdhury was quoted by NDTV as saying.

The channel also mentioned sources saying that the Indian Army has communicated concerns over Adityanath’s comment to the Ministry of Defence.

Since the ‘Surgical strike’ post the Uri attack in 2016, the BJP-led NDA government has been accused by several Opposition leaders, analysts and journalists of politicising the Indian defence forces and taking the credit of their achievements.

At a Meerut rally in Uttar Pradesh the previous week, PM Modi had remarked that he has the courage to conduct ‘surgical strike’ on land, in the air and even in space.

The remark was a reference to the Army’s September 2016 retaliatory attack on terrorist camps across the LoC, which were subsequently dubbed as the surgical strikes, the Air Force’s strike on Pakistan’s Balakot on February 26, and the launch of the anti-satellite missile (ASAT) Mission Shakti last week.

Earlier in March, the Election Commission of India had issued instructions to political parties to not mention the country’s defence forces during election campaigns and also to not use their photographs in adverts.

In an advisory, the Election Commission had said that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had told the poll body that a few parties were using defence personnel’s photographs in their political advertisements.

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