Yogi Adityanath’s ‘Modi Sena’ remark sets up row; Opposition Demands apology

A remark by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath at his rally that referred to the army as ‘Modiji ji sena’ (PM Modi’s army) has set up a huge political firestorm with the opposition demanding Yogi Adityanath’s apology.

The 46-year-old chief minister, who addressed election meetings in Ghaziabad and Greater Noida on Sunday, had lashed out at the Congress for, what the BJP often alleges, its soft approach towards terrorism and terrorists.

“Congress-led government used to serve biryani to terrorists while Modi ji’s army sends bullets and bombs their way…. Congress encourages terrorists such as Masood Azhar by adding ‘’ji’’ after their name,” Yogi Adityanath said, according to a video clip of the speech put out by news agency ANI. Yogi Adityanath was attempting to contrast the Congress and BJP regime’s handling of terror.

It has been a running theme through the BJP campaign that PM Modi, through his decisive steps had improved Indian capabilities in the realm of security. PM Modi also does make a similar point. Last week, he took credit for launching surgical strikes on land, in air and even in space — a reference to the recent anti-satellite missile test.

But this time, Yogi Adityanath’s choice of words sparked a huge row.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is battling efforts by the BJP to gain a foothold in the state’s politics, said her UP counterpart’s comments were “shocking”.

“It is shocking to hear the UP CM saying that the Indian Army is the ‘Modi Sena’. Such blatant personalisation and usurping of our beloved Indian Army is an insult and a humiliation,” she tweeted.

Priyanka Chaturvedi of the Congress, who was among the first to red flag the comment, made a similar point. “This is an insult to our armed forces. They are India’s Armed Forces not the private army of Prachaar Mantri (publicity minister). Adityanath must apologise,” she said.

Former Army Chief General Shankar Roychowdhury said the armed forces were not anyone’s “private army”. “They (politicians) must know the basic fact. Indian defence forces serve the government of the day, not a political party,” he said.

The Election Commission had earlier asked political parties to desist from indulging in political propaganda involving activities of the defence forces and told them not to use their photographs.

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