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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

Naidu orders review of marshals’ uniform

india Updated: Nov 19, 2019 23:44 IST
HT Correspondent and Agencies
HT Correspondent and Agencies

New Delhi: Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday ordered a review of the new military-style uniform of marshals in Parliament’s upper House amid criticism including from former Army chief General Ved Prakash Malik, who called the attire illegal and a security hazard.

The marshals appeared in the Rajya Sabha on the first day of its 250th session on Monday in the deep blue winter uniform and peak caps similar to those senior army officers wear on ceremonial occasions. The uniform also has an aiguillette and braided cord similar to military uniforms. Earlier, the marshals wore bandhgala suits and turbans during winters and safari suits in summers.

Naidu said that the Rajya Sabha secretariat would revisit the decision to replace the marshals’ ethnic dress and turbans. “The secretariat of Rajya Sabha, after considering various suggestions, came out with a new dress code for the marshals. But we have received some observations from some political as well as some well-meaning people. So, I have decided to ask the secretariat to revisit the same [new uniform],” Naidu said.

Malik objected to the new uniform in a tweet on Monday. “Copying and wearing of military uniforms by non-military personnel is illegal and a security hazard.” Malik, who led the Army during the 1999 Kargil War, hoped Naidu and defence minister Rajnath Singh will take “early action”.

A Rajya Sabha official, who did not wish to be named, said that the request for the change in uniform came from the marshals, who complained that it was too cumbersome to “maintain their stiff turbans”.

“Several senior officials discussed it over time, and from a range of options, we choose one [new uniform],” said the official. The design, the official added, was finalised in-house and no external agency was involved.

The marshals were to wear a white uniform in summers similar to that of navy personnel as per the new dress code, according to people aware of the development. The green uniforms were meant for the winters.

The new uniform also has epaulettes with stripes depicting the seniority of the marshals.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh sought to speak about the change of the uniform in the Rajya Sabha on Monday. “It is a very significant change,” Ramesh said when the House was in the middle of a condolence motion for former Union minister Arun Jaitley, who passed away in August.

Naidu stopped Ramesh from speaking about the uniform, saying it was not the right time to make the point. “Okay. You always make significant points at an insignificant time,” Naidu told Ramesh on Monday.

Ramesh later told HT in a lighter vein that “marshal law” had started inside the House.

The marshals flank Rajya Sabha’s presiding officer and march ahead of the chairman to announce the commencement of proceedings.

Former vice Army chief Lt Gen AS Lamba welcomed the move to review the decision on the uniforms. “The sanctity of military uniform has to be preserved. The uniform has to be respected. It is good that the decision is being revisited.”