Military should be kept out of politics, says Army chief

Army chief Gen. Bipin Rawat said on Wednesday that there was a politicisation of the armed forces and the military “should be somehow” kept out of politics.

The Army chief also said the norm in the “good old days” was never to discuss “women and politics” in the forces. However, these subjects were gradually “inching” their way into the discourse and this should be avoided, he said.

Gen. Rawat was speaking at an event organised by the United Service Institution. “I think we operate in a very secular environment. We have a very vibrant democracy where the military should stay far away from the polity,” he said.

“Whenever [any] issue [of] linking any military establishment or military personnel where political entity comes in then…that is best avoided,” he said. The Army chief declined to elaborate on the statement. The defence forces, he said, did best when they did not meddle in the political affairs of the nation.

Responding to criticism over the Army being asked to build foot overbridges following the stampede at Mumbai’s Elphinstone railway station in October, Gen. Rawat said there was a charter of aid to civilians under which the armed forces help out in times of crises such as floods and earthquakes.

On the cap in educational assistance to children of martyrs or those disabled in action, Gen. Rawat said that Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, who is also chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, had raised the issue with the Defence Ministry.

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