Army chief questions AIUDF's rise on Muslim support, triggers row

IANS
New Delhi, Publish Date: Feb 23 2018 1:09AM | Updated Date: Feb 23 2018 1:09AM
Army chief questions AIUDF's rise on Muslim support, triggers rowFile Photo

Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has triggered a major row with his remarks that the AIUDF party has been growing faster than the BJP in Assam allegedly on the support of the Muslim population as Pakistan and China pushed Bangladeshi migrants into the northeast to destabilise India.

AIUDF chief and MP Badruddin Ajmal took strong objection to the "shocking" statement and AIMIM Lok Sabha member Asaduddin Owaisi criticised the General, accusing him of interfering in political matters beyond his constitutional mandate.

The Army, however, defended its chief, saying there was nothing political or religious in Rawat's comments made during a seminar on the northeast at DRDO Bhavan.

"There is nothing political or religious in the talk. The Army Chief just mentioned amalgamation and development in the seminar," the Army said.

The Army chief said Pakistan, with support from China, was pushing illegal migrants from Bangladesh into India though he didn't name the two countries but made his references obvious by calling them India's "western neighbour" and "northern neighbour".

"They will always try and ensure that this area is taken over, playing the proxy dimension of warfare where they do not have to confront a stronger nation through conventional operations. This proxy game is being well played by our western neighbour and supported also by the northern neighbour.

"We will continue to see some migration happening. The solution lies in identifying the problem and holistically looking at it."

Rawat said the government was looking at the northeast with the right perspective now to make sure that the population dynamics of this region could no longer be changed, referring to the state government's move of coming out with a national register of citizens to find out who have been living illegally in the state.

"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.

"When we talk of Jana Sangh with two Members of Parliament and where they have reached, the AIUDF is moving at a faster pace in the state of Assam. Finally, what will be the state of Assam, we will have to take a call."

The AIUDF, which has three Lok Sabha MPs and 13 MLAs in the Assam assembly, strongly objected to the remarks, asking why the heavens were falling over the electoral success of a "secular, democratic" party.

In its maiden electoral battle, the AIUDF won 10 seats in the 2006 Assam Assembly polls. The number went up to 18 in 2011.

AIUDF chief Ajmal said he respected the Army and its chief for the sacrifices the force makes in the service of the nation.

"But the Army chief has a misunderstanding that needs to be cleared. Whatever he has said is in violation of his constitutional mandate. I see nothing but politics in his statement," Ajmal said.

Earlier, in a series of tweets he slammed the General for making a "shocking", "political statement".

"Why is it a concern for the Army Chief that a political party, based on democratic and secular values, is rising faster than the BJP? Alternative parties like the AIUDF, the AAP have grown because of the misgovernance of big parties," Ajmal said.

Ajmal said he planned to meet President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue for an inquiry into the remarks that implied that the AIUDF's rise was on account of Muslim migration encouraged by Pakistan and China.

Owaisi reminded the General that the Army will always work under an elected civilian leadership in India.

"If illegal migrants are entering from Bangladesh what is the Modi government doing? The internal security is dealt by IB, police not military. We have seen the draconian consequences in our neighbouring countries when Army got involved in domestic politics," Owaisi tweeted. IANS

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