BJP & Armed Forces: Diminishing Trust Before 2019 Elections

Despair has taken place of the support which this community previously showed the government.

5 min read
BJP & Armed Forces: Diminishing Trust Before 2019 Elections

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In his rallies prior to the 2014 elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised the moon to the armed forces. He had vowed to implement One Rank One Pension (OROP), which had been pending for almost five decades, assured a strong response to Pakistan and promised the armed forces the desired equipment and capabilities.

His announcement of ‘Make in India’ was expected to make the nation an exporter of defence equipment. To further indicate his solidarity, he inducted two ex-Army officials into the government, increasing hopes of his desire to implement his promise.


10=100: BJP’s Claims of ‘Delivering Promises’

As stated by a politician in a casual conversation, the government may only implement 10 percent of the promises made, the balance being hindered by their own party members, Opposition and bureaucrats. The party would then seek to project this 10 percent as the near equivalent of the 100 percent promised. This is reality.

With the proliferation of social media across all spectrums of society, the hollowness of the government on its failure to fulfil its promises to the military community (serving and veteran) and the adverse impact of some of its decisions have increased the divide between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and military communities.

Despair has taken place of the support which this community previously showed the government.

The first lot which the community has begun to ignore are those who once wore the uniform, but now form part of the government. While they were not expected to support, considering their own careers came foremost, what hurt the military community was their silence and criticism of the veteran agitation.

When the community was battling the government at the peak of the OROP agitation, they were amongst its staunchest critics. Never was there a word of consolation or rapprochement, even when their senior brethren were manhandled and taken to police stations, with their medals torn off. With elections now approaching, they seek to reconnect, commencing with a rally this week. Social media is abuzz with calls for ignoring this rally, as they ignored when their support was needed the most. OROP remains a dream, which would once again be promised, but ignored after 2019.


Mismanagement of Armed Forces

Decisions on management of the armed forces have only worked to reduce their stature, rather than enhance it as promised by the party prior to the elections. It was seeking to push a degraded pay commission down the military’s throat. It was a near rebellion by service chief’s, who would've had no face to show their troops, which saved the day. Ultimately, the armed forces have still lost in stature as compared to their civilian brethren.

Non-Functional Upgradation (NFU), allocated to all services, remains ignored for the armed forces. There is not even a mention of it. The letter announcing delinking grade and status with NFU, thus removing anomalies between the bureaucracy and the armed forces remains unissued, only making functioning difficult.

To add insult to injury, aged veterans are forced to battle the government in court for their rightful dues, either pension or disability, despite the same being sanctioned by AFT (Armed Forces Tribunal).

The Supreme Court rapping the Ministry of Defence has had no impact. It continues to appeal.

Degradation of military institutions continues unabated. The AFT is being lowered in stature, with the defence ministry seeking to induct non-military personnel into it, thereby ensuring it is one more failed institution. The Reddy report has yet to be studied, after nearly two years. Rations were withdrawn, reintroduced after a year, the payment for the period and reasons for withdrawal remain conjectures.


‘Surgical Strike’ on Defence Budget by BJP

Leading political figures of the ruling party proudly project the surgical strike as a sign of their strong action against Pakistan. They always claim that they were the first to resort to it. Simultaneously, they have lowered the percentage of defence share of the budget to below that of even 1962. It has prevented the armed forces from modernising. Such was the frustration that the vice chief of the army had to display his frustration to the standing committee of defence. It has had no impact.

In every forum, the BJP has claimed that ‘Make in India’ and ‘Made in India’ would be game changers. Nothing has moved. Its own MoS defence has stated that investment into FDI in defence is almost zero.

The PM and his ministers have been touting the opening of defence corridors, but they remain existent only on paper. With this, modernization remains a dream.

The creation of the ‘defence planning committee’ under the NSA (National Security Agency) has put paid to all hopes of reorganisation of higher defence management. It has made the NSA a de-facto CDS (Combined Defence Services). The BJP has forgotten its own announcements made by the PM in multiple forums. It has shown that it is no better than any previous government and remains afraid of appointing a CDS.

To top it all was the latest move by the defence minister to open all cantonment roads and also remove all security checks to gain a few additional votes, ignoring requests and demands from multiple forums, including Army families. It has openly conveyed, we do not care for you, as you are not vote banks. It also seeks to send forth a message that visiting troops on Diwali is just a photo-op and we remain unconcerned.


Time to Act or Face Consequences

The party which walked in creating hope and belief in the hearts of millions of members of the military community (serving and retired), has done precious little to maintain that stance. The numbers who would continue to support it has now reduced from the millions who voted. As the dates for elections draw closer, the anger against the party would only grow.

It is still not too late for the party to win back the hearts and minds of the force, whose success it exploits for political gains. It must indicate a desire to act and fulfil its promises, if not 100 percent , at least 50 percent . The community which backed it to the hilt has moved away, willing to support anyone else but them. If they still feel that they can ignore the military community and treat them as they have been doing, 2019 may come as a shocker.

(The author is a retired Army officer based in Lucknow. He can be reached @kakar_harsha. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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Topics:  India   Bharatiya Janata Party   PM Modi 

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