“India’s military policy has drastically changed under the leadership of General
BipinRawat, Narendra Modi and his national security adviser AjitDoval”, this is
how observes Vivashwan Singh, an Indian political activist. His anguish over the
politicization of ‘apolitical’ Indian army is visible.India’s DailyO.com news
portal, headlined on February 2018“the fall from grace has been unabated for
Indian Army has always prided on its secular and apolitical character under wide
variety of political masters. But that was when its chiefs did not succumb to
plum posts and perks and did not sacrifice their soldiers in pursuits of
political agenda of the government. Now no more those larger than life leaders.
“Army Chief BipinRawat speaking against CAAProtests is wholly against
constitutional democracy. If Army Chief is allowed to speak on Political issues
today, it also permits him to attempt an Army takeover tomorrow!!" - tweeted
BrijeshKalappa, a spokesperson of the Congress, as reported in Indian NDTV.
Indian political leaders of all hues and shades have expressed their displeasure
over gradual politicization of their armed forces under BJP rule.The Hindu,
normally a staunch pro establishment newspaper, had to remind General Bipin in
an unusually harsh editorial that Army men had no business to comment on
political issues “The Army Chief’s remarks could have been discounted as an
unfortunate slip of the tongue or a one-off instance, if it were not for the
frequency with which he weighed in on matters he ought to have been extremely
circumspect about, in public at least”.
The frequency of making vividly political comments, in favour of ruling party
and their political philosophy has not been appreciated by political class of
India, except of course the ruling BJP and their ideological base,RSS. But the
lure of perks and elevation to higher position in defencehierarchy has been so
irresistible that GenRawat decided to brush aside the decades long military
tradition of staying apolitical. To be honest, political masters have not been
disappointing either and have granted Indian military what no other political
party could dare to do: partial removal of civilian control over military
Creation of Chief of Defence Staff was a long-held desire of the Indian armed
forces to improve tri service coordination and to be counted in decision making
process. BJP not only acceded to the demand but also placed newly created CDS
directly under defence minister, bypassing usual chain of command of military
men reportingto ministers through a civilian secretary to the government. This
brings CDS at par with civilian bureaucrats of defence ministry and allows
defence forces direct access to the ears of political masters, a dream come true
for Indian military. Thisdevelopment, when seen in the context of current
geopolitical situation of South Asia, only creates fears of an increased
BJP tried every trick up its sleeve to come back to power in 2019 polls. It even
took South Asia to the brink of a war when Modi ordered IAF jets to strike on an
alleged terrorist camps at Balakot, Pakistan. Next day Pakistan retaliated and
struck Indian military targets, destroying an Indian fighter jet and captured
its pilot. This all high suspense drama was played barely 6 weeks before
national polls in India. As expected, Modi was able to sell the Balakot strike
to masses, projecting a strong man image and got sweeping majority to run India
for another term. But that’s perfectly fine in politics and itis done the world
over. What’s so special when Modi does it?
The secret recipe of Modi and his coterie is to stoke tensions on Pakistan-India
border wheneverin trouble domestically. Timings of most cross-border tensions
between India and Pakistan during 2019(coinciding with state or federal
elections) offer a lot to misgivingof misuse of professional armed forces of
India in furthering political agenda of BJP.Indian Balakot strike and claims
made by Indian defenceforce (shooting down a Pakistani Fighter jet) in its
wakelacked credible evidence and were never accepted by international community.
IAF has admitted of a helicopter fratricide on the day of Pakistani strike. How
do you hide operational and tactical failures of this magnitude? Stoke further
tensions along borders.
GenRawat appeared to have played in the hands of political masters for his
personal gains. He has been elevated to CDS position as reward for his services
to BJP. This has set the expected performance standards from armed
forces’leaders in no ambiguous terms; service chiefs can expect a transactional
relationship with political masters.
Appointment of a former Indian army chief, General V K Singh as minister for
road transport and highways by BJP wasfirst clear signal to armed forces chiefs.
GenRawat did not miss the message and complied to receive a life time glory.
Temptation would be hard to resist for new incumbent GenManoj, who in his first
interview after assuming command, further compounded the prevailing tensions by
saying “we reserve the right to pre-emptively strike at sources of terror". The
Army Chief said India had "multiple options across (the) spectrum of conflict...
to respond to any act of terror sponsored or abetted by Pakistan".
No wonder Gen Manoj wants to imitate his predecessors in stoking fires of
tensions and gain equal if not bigger reward at the end of his term. But this
playing with fire can cost dearly to the peace of South Asia and world in
general. BJP wants to divert attention from a miserable economic performance and
accusations of rampant politically motivated corruptions in public finances. The
Indian occupied Kashmir is simmering and Citizenship Amendment act (CAB) is also
a thorn in the back. Pakistan bashing appears to be the last resort of BJP and
its new political ally, Indian Army.