Narendra Modi’s Ministers must put national interest above personal political peeves

By upholding the appointment of the Lt General Suhag as Army Chief, which the Manmohan Singh-led UPA Government made in haste in its last days, the Narendra Modi led Government has made it clear that it is going to keep the Armed Forces above politics.

Putting an end to the unnecessary furore created by Opposition Congress, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley had in the Rajya Sabha asserted that his Government respected the decision of the previous Government’s appointment of armed forces should not be politicised.

“As far as Government is concerned, the appointment (of Lt General Suhag as Army chief) is final and the Government stands by it,” Jaitley had then said.

Jaitley had also added, “The previous UPA Government had made the appointment a few weeks ago and it is a practice that we keep some issues outside the realm of inter-party politics. The matter should not be raised directly or indirectly.”

The Congress made a lame attempt at trying to fish in troubled waters when a Minister of State in the Modi Government and a former Army chief took to Twitter to defend himself over comments made against him in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court by the Government.  The former General and now Minister of State, while defending his decision as the then Army chief, took to Twitter to justify his decision of placing Lt Gen Suhag under a Disciplinary and Vigilance (DV) ban for alleged ‘failure of command and control’ in an operation carried out by an intelligence unit working directly under him when he was working as the then Dimapur-based 3 Corps Commander. But soon after his retirement, Lt Gen Suhag’s promotion as Army commander was cleared by his successor Gen Bikram Singh. The ban was also lifted. Lt Gen Suhag was later named as the successor to the incumbent Bikram Singh, who is retiring on July 31.

With Prime Minister Narendra repeatedly exhorting his Cabinet, his Party’s MPs and the central bureaucracy to be laser focused on delivering on the people’s hopes and aspirations, this episode has left a jarring note in an otherwise incredible start to the new Government.  The erstwhile Manmohan Singh Government has a long-standing history of breaking protocol when it came to taking care of defence-related issues.

The new Government with its mantra of minimum Government and maximum governance should not divert from set rules. Narendra Modi’s exhortation to his Ministers to use Social Media to directly communicate to the people was meant to realise participatory governance. Ministers must resist the temptation to use this medium to indulge in loose talk that deflects from this goal.

The historic mandate won by the Narendra Modi led BJP was rooted in a billion aspirations. It would be a betrayal of those dreams if the mandate was misused to push a personal agenda.

 

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