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Army defends Bipin Rawat after Ajmal objects to his comments on AIUDF, migrants

AIUDF president Badruddin Ajmal said Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat’s remarks were “shocking” and questioned if he was “indulging in politics”, which is against the constitutional mandate given to him.

india Updated: Feb 22, 2018 23:57 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Army chief Bipin Rawat controversy,Indian Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat,AIUDF
Chief of the Army Staff General Bipin Rawat at Parliament House in New Delhi. (PTI file)

The Army on Thursday defended its chief Bipin Rawat’s comments about the rise of a political party in the Northeast on the back of Muslim support, saying there was “nothing political or religious in the talk”.

The response comes after Badruddin Ajmal, president of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) questioned if the Army chief was “indulging in politics” which is against the constitutional mandate given to him.

“Gen Bipin Rawat has made a political statement, shocking! Why is it a concern for the Army Chief that a political party, based on democratic & secular values, is rising faster than BJP? Alternative parties like AIUDF, AAP have grown because of the misgovernance of big parties,” Ajmal tweeted.

The controversy started after Rawat spoke of proxy warfare in the Northeast by Pakistan with help from China and the “planned” influx of Bangladeshi immigrants. He also referred to Ajmal’s AIDUF in connection with reports of increase in Muslim population in several districts of Assam, observing that the party has grown “faster” than the BJP in the 1980s.

“There is nothing political or religious in the talk. Army Chief just mentioned amalgamation and development in the seminar on North-East organised at DRDO Bhawan on 21 Feb 18,” the Army said.

Reacting to the Army statement, Ajmal tweeted: “If nothing political, why was Army Chief dragging a political party, in his speech, whose representatives are democratically elected by Indian citizens?”

Speaking at a conference on the Northeast in the Capital on Wednesday, Rawat said: “They (Pakistan) 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.”

He did not name Pakistan or China, instead using “western neighbour” and “northern neighbour” to refer to them.

“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,” said Rawat.

He said India needed to identify problems in the Northeast and address them holistically, with focus on development and on ways to integrate the region with the rest of the country.

“I think the government is looking at the Northeast with correct perspective...With development will come control of the people residing in this area. I don’t think now you can change the population dynamics of this region... there is a party called AIUDF. It has grown at a faster rate than the BJP has over the years. The AIUDF is moving at a faster pace in the state of Assam.”

The AIUDF, which was formed in 2005 with an aim to champion the cause of Muslim community, currently has three MPs in the Lok Sabha and 13 legislators in the state assembly.

First Published: Feb 22, 2018 13:59 IST