Army chief stokes political row with his comments on Assam party

Army chief stokes political row with his comments on Assam party

Army chief stokes political row with his comments on Assam party

Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat has waded into yet another controversy by commenting that the rise of All India United Democratic Front a political party that champions cause of Muslims in Assam was faster than BJP.

"There is a party called AIUDF. If you look at it, they have grown in a faster time-frame than the BJP grew over the years. BJP won only 2 seats in 1984. The AIUDF is moving at a faster pace in Assam than the Jansangh," Gen Rawat said at a seminar here on Wednesday.

Illegal immigration of Bangladeshi Muslims has been dominating emotions and politics in Assam for decades benefiting political parties like AGP, BJP and AIUDF. At the behest of the Supreme Court, the state government has now come out with a draft National Register of Citizens to filter out those living illegally in the NE state.

Predictably, the Army Chief's comments made in the context of the security dynamics of the North East triggered a row.

"People say we are a Muslim party which is false. We've always given 20-25 seats to our Hindu Brothers in all elections. Muslim brothers had also laid down their lives for the freedom struggle. We're Indians. Let us live with the dignity of an Indian," AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal said at a press conference in Guwahati.

"We respect Gen Rawat a lot but I think he has been misinformed and misguided. We would take up the issue with the Home Minister and the President," Ajmal said.

Army officials maintained on Thursday, "There is nothing political or religious in the talk if we understand the context."

The army chief was speaking at a seminar organised by the Centre for Joint Warfare Studies on the theme of "North East region of India “Bridging Gaps and Securing Borders." Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba and former National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon too spoke at the same event.

Planned immigration

"A planned immigration is taking place because of our western neighbour (Pakistan). They will always try and ensure that this area is taken over, playing the proxy dimension of warfare. I think the proxy game is very well played by our western neighbour, supported by our northern neighbour (China) to keep the area disturbed. We will continue to see some migration happening. The solution lies in identifying the problem and holistically looking at it," he said.

This is not the first time Gen Rawat courted controversy because of his political comments. In January, his comments on the school curriculum in Jammu and Kashmir came under strong criticism from ministers in Jammu and Kashmir.