Defence ministry spokesperson proceeds on leave after Twitter goof-up
Swarnashree Rao Rajashekar, an Indian Defence Accounts Service officer, regretted the ‘inadvertent’ tweet but by then the issue had already escalated into a debate over the civil-military divide.Updated: Oct 26, 2018 23:10 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The spokesperson of the ministry of defence, Swarnashree Rao Rajashekar, proceeded on leave on Friday for two weeks hours after she took a jibe at former Indian Navy chief admiral Arun Prakash, a 1971 war hero, on Twitter over military officers abusing their privileges, triggering a groundswell of angry reactions on the social media site.
Rajashekar, an Indian Defence Accounts Service officer, regretted the ‘inadvertent’ tweet but by then the issue had already escalated into a debate over the civil-military divide.
It all began on Thursday when Prakash reacting to a tweet questioning whether a civilian officer at Chandimandir-based Western Command could fly the formation’s flag on his car.
“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 GOCinC whose “Financial Adviser” he is,” Prakash wrote on Twitter.
Rajashekar responded to this tweet using the official Twitter handle of the ministry’s spokesperson.
She wrote, “What about the 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 gaadis? Not to mention Madam’s shopping expeditions on government vehicles. And endless parties…who pays for that?”
She deleted the controversial tweet amid the outrage it had triggered but users had already taken screenshots and widely shared them.
“This is indeed shameful for @SpokespersonMoD to tweet this to a former Service Chief,” Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (retd), additional director general of the Centre for Air Power Studies, tweeted.
By now, the controversy had peaked.
Responding to Bahadur, Rajashekar tweeted, “The tweet was inadvertently done and the same is deeply regretted please.”
Prakash was extremely dignified on Twitter and even asked the military leadership to reflect on the aspersions cast by the ministry’s spokesperson.
“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,” Prakash tweeted.
Indian Army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand has taken over as the ministry’s officiating spokesperson.
First Published: Oct 26, 2018 20:59 IST