The Congress on Friday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders of using the armed forces for garnering votes while expressing solidarity with the military veterans who have written to President Ram Nath Kovind over what they called "use of military for political purposes".
Over 150 military veterans have written to the president seeking his intervention in preserving the apolitical character of the services. The letter, dated April 11, carries the names of eight former service chiefs, but two of them -- former Army chief General (retd) S F Rodrigues and Air Chief Marshal (retd) N C Suri -- said they have not signed it.
Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturverdi, at a press conference, alleged that both Prime Minister Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, in their public addresses in the last few days, have actively referred to the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel lost their lives.
"The statements come as both the leaders attempt to make the attack a part of their political narrative in the run-up to the 2019 polls," Chaturvedi said, referring to Modi's April 9 election rally in Maharashtra's Latur, in which he urged first-time voters to dedicate their vote to the soldiers who conducted the Balakot anti-terror airstrikes and to those who lost their lives in Pulwama.
"We have also witnessed how PM Modi made an election speech with photographs of 40 Pulwama martyrs in the backdrop," she said.
"Earlier, BJP MP and national executive member Sakshi Maharaj was shamefully smiling, waving and holding a road show standing next to body of Pulwama martyr in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh and the nation witnessed the despicable act of self-promotion by (Union) Tourism Minister Alphons Kannanthanam who clicked a selfie with a Pulwama jawan's body in Wayanad," Chaturvedi alleged.
"We express solidarity with the 156 veterans who have pointed out that the blood and sacrifice of our Armed Forces should not be used as a political pamphlet to seek votes. We would demand Rashtrapatiji -- the Supreme Commander of our armed forces -- to ensure action against PM Modi, UP CM and several other BJP leaders," she said.
Earlier, the Congress, in a tweet, alleged that the prime minister "may try to use soldiers for votes, but it's clear that soldiers stand with India and not the BJP."
Referring to the letter, Chaturvedi said that the veterans had expressed displeasure over repeated instances of political parties using armed forces for political gains ahead of the elections.
The Army veterans have urged the President to take "necessary steps to urgently direct all political parties that they must forthwith desist from using the military, military uniforms or symbols, and any actions by military formations or personnel, for political purposes to further their political agendas," Chaturvedi said.
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