Hours after Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said the people, who guide masses to carry out arson and violence are not leaders, politicians cutting across parties have reacted against what they think is an unconventional take.
Rawat's remark was in reference to protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act that led to violence in certain areas, including near Jamia Milia Islamia in Delhi and several parts of Uttar Pradesh.
AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi took to Twitter and said that "leadership is knowing the limits of one’s office," essentially reminding the Army chief of the conventional apolitical image of the Indian army.
"It is about understanding the idea of civilian supremacy & preserving the integrity of the institution that you head," Owaisi wrote further.
Leadership is knowing the limits of one’s office.
It is about understanding the idea of civilian supremacy & preserving the integrity of the institution that you head https://t.co/qqbxgGj72j— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) December 26, 2019
Using General Rawat's comment, Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav took a swipe at Narendra Modi, saying, "I agree with him. Yes, leaders should lead (people) in the appropriate direction. I am absolutely sure, he has the prime minister of this country in mind when talking about that."
He said Gen Rawat's comments on politics is a sharp departure from the convention of the Indian Army in the last 70 years. "This used to happen in Pakistan and Bangladesh."
Congress Spokesperson Brijesh Kalappa too slammed Gen Rawat for his remarks.
"Army Chief Bipin Rawat 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!!," he tweeted.
Another Congress leader Digvijaya Singh expressed his displeasure over Rawat's comment and tweeted, "I agree General Saheb but also Leaders are not those who allow their followers to indulge in genocide of communal violence. Do you agree with me, General Saheb?"
"Leaders Not Those Who Lead Masses In Arson": Army Chief On Citizenship Protests— digvijaya singh (@digvijaya_28) December 26, 2019
I agree General Saheb but also Leaders are not those who allow their followers to indulge in Genocide of Communal Violence. Do you agree with me General Saheb? https://t.co/rOo0vFGMIf
Former Navy Chief Admiral L Ramdas said Gen Rawat was "wrong" in making such remarks as people in the armed forces must follow the decades-old principle of serving the country and not any political force.
"The rule is very clear that we are serving the country and not political forces, and to express any political views as we have heard today are quite a wrong thing for any serving personnel whether he is the top gun or at the bottom rank. It is not proper," Ramdas told PTI.
Section 21 of the Army Act prohibits any Army personnel to attend or address any meeting or to take part in any demonstration organised by anybody for any political or other purposes. It also bars them from communicating to press or to publish any book relating to any political question.
"Leaders emerge from crowds, but leaders are not those who lead people in 'inappropriate directions'," the Army chief said earlier in the day.
"What is so complex about leadership, if it is all about leading. Because when you move forward, everybody follows. It is not that simple. It appears simple, but it is a complex phenomenon," he said.