Wednesday, April 15, 2009

CNN-IBN by Vishal Thapar 15 Apr 2009

Ex-servicemen group tells Army to vote for BJP
Vishal Thapar

New Delhi: BJP is gaining popularity with Army men. This has become obvious after an influential ex-servicemen's group has now publicly advised the military community to vote for the party.
The advise sounds more like a fatwa.
Former deputy chief of the Army, Lt General Raj Kadyan says, "It is in our interest that we should vote for the BJP."

For the first time ever, India's sizeable and well-regarded military community has been openly asked to vote for a particular political party.

I am looking for the benefit of my community, my 24 lakh ex-servicemen. And their benefits, as the developments are today, lie with the BJP. They are better than the others," Lt General Kadyan states.

The ex-Servicemen's Group Lt General Kadyan heads has campaigned for a better pay and pension deal for the military and its views are thought to find resonance in the Armed Forces. Spurred by the success, it now seeks a bigger political voice for the men in uniform.

This is the first time that discontent in the military is being expressed politically. The target of the anger is the ruling establishment. And the advisory to vote against the Government of the day is unprecedented.

The UPA Government, accused of being insensitive to the interests of soldiers, was demonised but former generals think that the use of political vocabulary to make their case is fair game.

"We have realised that unless we have a political voice, the Government will not understand the value of our vote. The Government must realise that we have a vote too," says Major General (retd) AJB Jaini.

India has long held to the belief that its military is apolitical but democracy is clearly catching up with the men of arms

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