- Yogi Adityanath was reprimanded sharply by the Election Commission
- He had called Army "Modi ji ki sena" at a rally
- Comment criticised by opposition and some ex-Army officers
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was reprimanded sharply by the Election Commission on Friday, five days after he referred to the Indian Army as "Modiji ki Sena", or Prime Minister Narendra Modi's army, at an election rally in Uttar Pradesh. "Be careful in your utterances in the future," news agency PTI quoted the poll body as saying.
Yogi Adityanath had made the controversial remark at a rally in Ghaziabad on Sunday. "Congress people used to serve terrorists biryani, but Modiji's Sena (Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Army) gives them only bullets and bombs. That's the difference. Congress people use "ji" for terrorists like Masood Azhar, but under the leadership of PM Modi, the BJP government is breaking the backs of terrorists by striking their camps," he said.
The comment was not received well by opposition leaders and former army officials, who maintained that apolitical entities such as the armed forces should not be dragged into electoral politics. "It is shocking to hear the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister referring to the Indian Army as the 'Modi Sena'. Such blatant usurping of our beloved Indian Army is an insult and a humiliation," said West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Even Union Minister VK Singh rebuked Yogi Adityanath, saying that the "army does not belong to any individual but to the entire nation".
Former Navy chief Admiral L Ramdas (retired) asked the Election Commission to look into possible violation of the poll code, following which it sought an explanation from Yogi Adityanath yesterday.
Yogi Adityanath made the remark despite the Election Commission issuing clear instructions last month that the armed forces, being "apolitical and neutral stakeholders in a modern democracy", should not be brought up in poll campaigns.