New Delhi: The Defence Ministry was Friday left red faced after its spokesperson “inadvertently” posted a tweet, criticising misuse of privileges by military officials, while responding to a comment by former Navy Chief Admiral (retd) Arun Prakash. As the tweet by Principal Spokesperson Swaranashree Rao Rajashekar drew angry reactions from military veterans, she deleted it saying, “The tweet was inadvertently done and the same is deeply regretted please.”
Earlier, Admiral Prakash retweeted a photograph showing a military flag on the bonnet of an official car of the Internal Financial Adviser to the Western Command of the Army. “Even if misuse of an Army Command’s insignia by a civilian is not a cognizable offence, the person needs to be reprimanded by the GOC in C whose ‘Financial Adviser’ he is,” Prakash tweeted. Responding to the former Navy Chief’s comments, Rajashekar, tweeted, “What about misuse of jawans in your residence during an officer’s tenure sir? And how about children being picked up and dropped to school in Fauji (military) gaadis (vehicles)? Not to forget Madam’s shopping expedition on government vehicles. And endless parties…who pays for that?”.
Later, Rajashekar, an official from the Defence Accounts Service, deleted the tweet. Her response to 72-year-old Admiral Prakash, a war hero who was chief of Navy Staff between July 2004 and October 2006, drew sharp reactions from military veterans. Some of them even said the principal spokesperson’s comments reflected the approach of the bureaucracy towards the armed forces. In a tweet, Retired Major General Harsha Kakar told Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman that the spokesperson’s comments mirrored true colours of the ministry towards the three services. “Is this inadvertent. It shows the true colours of your MoD Madam. You are meant to protect the military, not insult it. Keeping this spokesperson is an insult to India, its armed forces and their sacrifices. It shows no respect for senior veterans. Your spokesperson is a disaster,” he said.
Retired Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur called the tweet to the former Navy chief by Rajashekar as “shameful”. BJP MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar also took strong exception to the spokesperson’s comments and demanded an inquiry into the matter. “Dear @DefenceMinIndia @DrSubhashMoS – who is this ‘Defence spokesperson’ who reprsnts MoD ie govt n talks like this. This is unacceptable conduct n I wud rqst an enquiry into this. This is unconscionable, disrespectful n arrogance tht behooves a response. @PMOIndia (sic)” he tweeted. Amid angry reactions by veterans, Admiral Prakash said there should be sober reflection on state of civil military relationship. “Rather than getting excited over indiscreet tweet of @SpokespersonMoD I would suggest sober reflection; (a) by MoD on state of civil-mil relations & (b) by Military Leadership on the aspersions cast by MoD (IDAS?) civil-servant on personal conduct of Service officers,” he said.
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