Congressman Rahul Gandhi and other members of his party walked out of a meeting of the Standing Parliamentary Committee on Defense Wednesday, claiming that neither he nor his colleagues were allowed to speak during a discussion on the new uniforms for the military.
Mr. Gandhi said the jury’s time had been wasted talking about uniforms instead of discussing how to best equip Indian soldiers, particularly in the face of threats at the country’s borders. Among other issues, he was referring to the months-long standoff with China on the border with Ladakh.
The confrontation took place when former Lieutenant General Devender Paul Vats, a deputy from BJP Rajya Sabha of Haryana, raised the issue of changes in the uniform, calling for uniformity and parity in the rank and names of all wings – army, navy and air force – so there is no confusion.
Mr. Gandhi wanted to know why politicians had to decide on military uniforms and ranks. The congressional leader suggested that this was an issue best left to the military themselves.
This happened as the military, led by the Chief of Defense General Bipin Rawat, was giving a presentation on how the branches of military service in the United States and other countries had uniforms that made it easy to distinguish between the various ranks. .
While Mr. Gandhi and other members of Congress pressed for an explanation, Jual Oram of the BJP, the chairman of the committee, allegedly would not allow them to speak.
Mr. Gandhi kept asking why General Rawat and other senior officers had to listen to politicians on this matter, and whether the military was not competent to decide the matter themselves.
Exasperated, the Congressional contingent finally left. The BJP MPs were taken by surprise and, later (after the strike), one of them even questioned Gandhi’s intentions.
The meeting ended abruptly shortly thereafter, with the embarrassed departure of General Rawat and no decision made on the issue of the new uniforms and ranks of the military.