End politicization of armed forces: Amarinder

Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday called for an end to politicization of the armed forces for political gains.

Welcoming the directive of the Election Commission (EC) against use of pictures relating to defence personnel for election propaganda or campaigning, Amarinder said “earning brownie points through politicization of forces was as wrong”.

In a statement here, Amarinder, who served in the Army as a Captain in the 1960s, said: “It is good that the EC had taken note of the shameful practice of using such photographs for electoral gains, especially in the wake of the recent IAF air strikes across the LoC (Line of Control). Political parties should desist also from any attempt to politicize the forces.

“The armed forces are above all petty considerations such as caste, religion or political affiliations and need to be kept so if India is to remain an independent sovereign power,” said the Chief Minister, who is himself a strong advocate of freedom to the armed forces to handle all sensitive situations at the border as they deem fit.

Any political interference in the functioning of the forces would be highly detrimental to the security and the larger interest of the nation and its people, Amarinder said.

“Political control of the armed forces could have devastating effects on a country and its future, as much as interference by the forces could have on its polity,” he said, warning political parties “not to make the mistake which some other nations had done to their peril”.

The armed forces are a vital institution of our country and any erosion in their authority could be dangerous to the safety and security of our people, he warned.

The EC had on Saturday issued an advisory to all national and state political parties of the country, asking them to refrain from display of photographs of defence personnel or photographs of functions involving defence personnel in advertisements, or otherwise, as part of their election propaganda or campaigning.