NEW DELHI: General Bipin Rawat, criticized by the opposition recently for a political comment, said today that the armed forces prefer to stay away from politics. “We keep ourselves away from politics. We act according to the directives of the government of the day,” he said a day after taking over the Chief of Defence Staff, the brand new role created by the government to integrate the three wings of the armed forces and trim the weapons procurement process. “We keep ourselves away from politics. We act according to the directives of the government of the day,” he said today in response to reporters’ questions on the issue. General Rawat has been targeted by the opposition parties over a comment criticising the incidents of arson and vandalism during the protests over the citizenship law. “Leaders are not those who lead people in inappropriate directions, as we are witnessing in a large number of university and college students, the way they are leading masses of crowds to carry out arson and violence in our cities and towns. This is not leadership,” he said as the protests peaked last week. Opposition leaders had accused him of overstepping his brief. “Leadership also means knowing the limits of one’s office. It is about understanding the idea of civilian supremacy and preserving the integrity of the institution you head,” Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi said. The Congress, which has been accused by the BJP of engineering the riots, reacted strongly. “It is not the business of the Army to tell politicians what we should do, just as it is not our business to tell you how to fight a war. You fight war in accordance with your ideas and we will manage the country’s politics in accordance with ours,” senior party leader P Chidambaram said. After General Rawat was named for the post of the Chief of Defence Staff, Congress’s Manish Tiwari had remarked that the government started off “on the wrong foot”.