NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Defence has given permission to the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party, to hold its national convention at the Bison Polo Ground and the Parade Ground in Secunderabad. This has led to consternation in military circles, in the light of opening cantonments to civilians.

A letter on October 13, the office of the General Officer Commanding has referred to an October 12 communication from MoD Delhi that allowed the use of the Bison Polo Ground from the “date of sanction” till October 28, and of the Parade Ground from October 23 to October 28. A copy of the letter has been sent by the Army to the Telangana BJP President Dr K.Laxman.

The office of the GOC Telangana and Andhra Pradesh Sub Area has attached the proviso asking Laxman to ensure that a) no damage is done to the ground; b) no permanent construction/digging activity is undertaken on the Parade Ground; c) only inescapable erections are done under the supervision of the local military authority; d) there is no environment degradation of the land and it is restored to its original condition with appropriate cleanliness at “your” cost; e) permission is obtained from the district authorities for the function; and f) the land is not used for any commercial actvity.

According to sources the MoD overruled objections from the local military authorities.

Interestingly Telangana Chief Minister Chandrashekar Rao flagged this propery earlier in June with a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to transfer the Bison Polo Ground and the Gymkhana grounds that fall under the purview of MoD to his government to construct a new Telangana secretariat complex. He also asked for the transfer of 7.58 acres of defence land for a six lane alternative road in lieu of Gough Road.

BJP local leader Manohar Reddy has been quoted in the local media saying that at least 1,50,000 are expected for the event. Army veterans have expressed worry about the decision to hold political meetings inside the cantonment, with some openly tweeting against senior officers in command at the centre. The TRS held a political rally at the Parade Grounds in April 2015. In April this year the Telengana Jana Samiti was denied permission for a rally, according to local reports, as was the Telangana State Ex-Servicemen’s Welfare Association that wanted to commemorate Kargil Dal on the Parade Grounds.