- Yogi Adityanath referred to armed forces as 'Modiji Ki Sena' at a rally
- Many lampooned the remark, saying it amounts to politicising the army
- Yogi Adityanath has to respond to the election body's notice by April 5
Two days after Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath created a furore by referring to the armed forces as Modiji ki Sena, or PM Modi's Army, the Election Commission sought an explanation from him on the matter today. He has been told to respond to the poll body's notice by April 5.
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.
Congress leader Priyanka Chaturvedi demanded an apology from Yogi Adityanath. "This is an insult to our armed forces. They are India's Armed Forces, not the Prachar Mantri's private army. Adityanath must apologise," the Congress leader tweeted. Prachar is the Hindi term for propaganda.
Former Navy chief Admiral L Ramdas also wrote to the Election Commission in this regard, asking it to check if the comment amounts to violating the Model Code of Conduct. "The armed forces do not belong to any one individual, they serve the country," news agency PTI quoted Admiral Ramdas as saying.
Lieutenant General HS Panang (Retired) said such comments amount to "politicisation" of the Army.
Yogi Adityanath had come despite the Election Commission clearly instructing last month that the armed forces, being "apolitical and neutral stakeholders in a modern democracy", should not be brought up in poll campaigns. The notice, sent to all parties, was issued after billboards featuring Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman with BJP leaders such as Amit Shah and Narendra Modi came up in certain parts of the national capital. "Everything is possible under PM Modi," the billboards read.
Wing Commander Varthaman was captured by Pakistani authorities after an aerial dogfight with India on February 27, but returned two days later. Many BJP leaders, including Union Minister Smriti Irani, attributed his near-immediate release to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's efforts.
(With inputs from PTI)