PM Modi Politicising Army: Sacked Jawan Contesting from Varanasi
Video Editor: Ashutosh Bharadwaj
(Update: Tej Bahadur has since been fielded against PM Modi in Varanasi as a Samajwadi Party candidate.)
Walking out of Tis Hazari court in north Delhi on a hot summer afternoon, Tej Bahadur Yadav avoids venturing too far from the busy, familiar hub. “You know that I can’t just go anywhere I wish, it’s a little risky,” he adds, while trying to justify the choice of a rather noisy location for this interview.
Who is Tej Bahadur?
An ex-BSF constable, Yadav, dressed in a grey safari suit, is all set to contest as against Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi, UP, in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.
He had shot to fame in January in 2014, after releasing a video in which he complained about the serving of (allegedly) bland and unpalatable food in the forces – which he claimed was a result of corruption in the forces.
Bahadur, a resident of Rewari, Haryana, was dismissed from service later that year for breach of protocol, and because a military court found his charges false.
“I had never thought of joining politics before. I exposed corruption within the armed forces, but the PM didn’t take cognisance,” says Yadav. After failing to bring about change through agitations and protests, Yadav realized that only an entry into Parliament could help him highlight and thereby stem, the menace of corruption within the armed forces.
Why Contest From Varanasi?
There are 543 Lok Sabha constituencies spread across the country, but the one that has caught the 42-year-old’s attention is Varanasi, occupied by PM Modi, who’s decided to contest for a second time from the seat.
Yadav says that he decided to contest from Varanasi after the PM repeatedly politicsed the armed forces.
While politicisation of the armed forces and corruption within it are are broader issues, Yadav says the BSF is reeling under issues far more specific. According to Yadav, BSF jawans who die while guarding the country are called martyrs, but are not even accorded the status of one for official purposes. Moreover, they don’t have access to canteen services.
Ask him about operational loopholes within the BSF and Yadav refuses to comment in detail. He, however, adds that gaps and lack of proper fencing along the border are responsible for the lack of cross-border terrorism and militant attacks. “It is because of lapses on part of our political leadership and top-ranking officials, that our borders are open to infiltrators,” he adds.
To make things worse, Yadav rues that individual jawans are forced to work on 18-hour-shifts, while “half the workforce remains busy taking dogs out for a stroll in Delhi.”
Tej Bahadur’s Life After Being Sacked
Yadav says that the intention of his video was to highlight the many problems faced by the armed forces. In hindsight, he admits that he wouldn’t have done it, had he known that those in power would support the corrupt and that he would lose his job.
Yadav was dismissed by the summary Security Force court in April 2017, which held that Yadav had made “false allegations on social media regarding the quality of food and did not adhere to the formal grievance redressal mechanism of the force.”
Yadav’s dismissal came at a time when his family’s economic condition was not good. To make things worse, he lost his son earlier this year and his father is admitted to a hospital. “But all this hasn’t dampened the spirit of a soldier, who must struggle for the nation,” he adds. Yadav claims he’s been receiving support, including campaign funds from the public. He also claims that he has not received any funds from any political party.