Uniform and Ranks Discussion: Rahul Gandhi Leaves House Panel Meeting
Member of Congress of Parliament Rahul Gandhi and his colleagues left a meeting of the standing parliamentary committee on defense on Wednesday, saying they were not allowed to speak during a discussion about uniforms and ranks.
Gandhi, according to people familiar with the proceedings, expressed the view that it was best to let the forces discuss such matters and suggested that the panel focus on more substantive issues. At this point, the people said, panel chair Jual Oram asked Gandhi to stick to the day’s agenda, which is listed as “ an introduction to the rank, the structure of the Defense forces, including their uniforms, stars and insignia, and review of the functioning of the cantonment boards. ”
The meeting was attended by the Chief of Defense Staff, Bipin Rawat, the Deputy Chief of the Army, Satinder Kumar Saini, and the Secretary of Defense, Arun Kumar. According to some of the members who attended the meeting and spoke to the Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity, Rajya Sabha member, (Retired) Lieutenant General DP Vats, was asking officers why the Indian defense system could not have a uniform classification system, ie. same designations in the Army, Navy and Air Force that the United States makes in its three services.
Gandhi, according to a BJP deputy and a congressional deputy, responded by saying that the forces were the best judges of this and that suggesting otherwise was an insult to the senior defense officials present at the meeting. The congressional deputy added that Gandhi had been calling for a discussion on the border confrontation with China for some time and was disappointed that the committee, instead of taking that as an agenda, was discussing something else. The BJP MP claimed that Gandhi was late for the meeting and was absent from a previous committee hearing when it was decided that MPs needed a briefing to familiarize themselves with the ranks of forces and how to differentiate them.
President Oram is believed to have told Gandhi to allow members to ask questions and express their views on the scheduled issue, but in accordance with the aforementioned matter, Congressional MP Rajeev Satav, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut and some others asked that Gandhi be allowed to speak his mind.
When this request was denied, Gandhi and two other congressional deputies, Satav and Anumula Revanth Reddy, withdrew. The people cited above said that Gen Rawat and the other officers were silent throughout this process that lasted approximately 45 minutes.
BJP deputy Pratap Simha, who was present at the meeting, said Gandhi’s actions did not convey his respect for the forces. If you have such respect for the forces, why did you meet the Chinese ambassador at the height of the Doklam confrontation? ‘
HIS reference was to a July 2017 meeting between Gandhi and Ambassador Luo Zhaohui at a time when Indian and Chinese forces were locked in a weeks-long clash in the Doklam trijuncture area near Bhutan. The explanation from Congress at the time was that he needed to be briefed on bilateral issues and had also met with former NSA Shivshankar Menon. Gandhi himself had tweeted that it was his job to be informed on critical issues and had also met with the Bhutan ambassador.
General Vats told HT that the issue being discussed was important. “I doubt that Rahul Gandhi is able to distinguish between one rank and another,” he added.
Oram declined to comment.
A defense official familiar with the procedures said India follows the British system where the three services have their own ranks and uniforms. There are no plans to change this, the official added on condition of anonymity.
“What Rahulji said is absolutely correct. When India is facing an unprecedented crisis on the LAC border, the standing parliamentary committee is discussing the ranks and uniforms of the armed forces! Rather than discussing ways to better prepare our forces logistically in these challenging times, the committee chooses to dedicate time to issues that should only affect the Armed Forces. The main problem is that the BJP is taking advantage of the Indian defense forces for political gain and wants to escape responsibility to the people’s representatives on issues of national importance, ” Satav said.