By Sushil Kutty
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who – if he was ‘Born in America’ – would have had people singing, ‘I’m a Yogi/I’m Yogi, Baby/Hey, Boo-Boo’ The Yogi was not in bed, when for no reason at all, other than a swollen head, he said ‘Modi Ki Sena’ of the Indian Army and got away with it. After five years of Modi rule, one really thought, ‘Is this our Indian Army, India’s army. Has a political party and an individual taken ownership of the world’s fourth largest standing army?’
What’s this man: ‘I’m a Yogi/I’m a Yogi, Baby/I’m a Yogi/I’m a Yogi, Baby/Hey, Boo-Boo!’ Did Yogi Adityanath let the cat slip out of the bag? A slip of the proverbial tongue. BJP leaders like the Yogi, maybe, actually think the Indian Army is ‘Modi’s Sena’. A political party’s army. Next, they could change nomenclature and call the Indian Army, ‘Chowkidar’s Army’, who knows?
Anytime else and people wouldn’t have given a kook’s thought to Yogi’s comment. But these are extraordinary times. The Bharatiya Janata Party, bereft of issues to fight General Elections 2019, buffeted by failed promises, picked national insecurity to swing votes in its favour, put the ‘howa’ of ‘Pakistan Aaya, Dushman Aaya’ in the minds of Indians going to vote, build an atmosphere of fear and trepidation in the country.
Forgetting that there’s a difference between the armies of Pakistan, China and India. The Pak Army “has a country”. The Chinese Communist Party “has an army commission,” but it’s India that has the Indian Army, not the BJP or the Congress; BSP or SP; CPM or CPI. No Indian political party owns the Indian Army. Can hope to own it. That’s how it was for 65 years. Till the Modi Government took charge of country, and of the Indian Army.
Army officers, some of them at least, after Modi took charge, started sounding as if extension-cables of the ruling regime. The army’s operations in J&K, when the PDP-BJP alliance ruled the state, dovetailed with the central government’s “muscular” Kashmir policy even as the state government led by its PDP Chief Minister sounded at odds with the Indian Army. Discordant notes ruled.
Indian Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat is not as voluble these days as he was in the first three years of Modi rule. And he drew flak for that. Maj Leetul Gogoi, tying a Kashmiri youth to the bonnet of his jeep, brought the army’s role under Modi rule into sharp focus and it wasn’t a surprise when Maj Gogoi addressed a press conference. Standard army practice?
Today, Maj Gogoi is in career trouble for overstepping his brief when that was what he was doing all along – over-stepping his brief. Right up to the time he walked into a Srinagar hotel with a Kashmiri woman in tow – the ‘Humble tea-seller from Vadnagar-effect.’
Sure, the Indian Army did some wonderful things these last five years, like the ‘surgical strikes’ that spawned a movie, which is now the ‘josh’ that the BJP hopes will catapult Modi to another term in office. The ‘josh’ rival party, the Congress, doesn’t like and wants to rein in by cutting to size the Indian Army’s role in J&K.
The Congress Manifesto is one part ‘Nyay’, and one part ‘Indian Army.’ And Yogi’s ‘Modi’s Sena’ comment points to a malaise afflicting government-Army relations. The proposed Congress steps to correct it is not to stem the rot but to win sections of voters who have slipped out of Congress grasp in recent decades. The “healing touch” and “talks without conditions”, review of AFSPA, are grounded in electoral politics.
Bottom-line: The Indian Army was never so much compromised than under Modi rule. And the Yogi, kook as he is, let it slip out. A Freudian slip? “Now listen here, baby,” the Yogi man said. “It’s all a matter of the mind/Just commune with your innermost being/You’ll be just fine/I’m a Yogi/I’m a Yogi, baby/Hey Boo-Boo!” A kook standing on his head, flipping his lid! (IPA Service)