Army chief General Bipin Rawat triggered a hornet’s nest by alleging that the “faster” growth of All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) compared to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) indicated the rapid change in the demography of Assam due to illegal immigration.

“There is a party called AIUDF… It has grown in a faster time frame than the BJP grew over the years. When we talk of Jan Sangh with two MPs and where they have reached, AIUDF is moving at a faster pace in the state of Assam,” Rawat said at an event in New Delhi on Wednesday, 22 February, at a seminar on northeast organised at DRDO Bhawan.

“We can’t change the population dynamics of Assam anymore,” he claimed.

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Reacting to General Rawat’s remark, Badruddin Ajmal, the chief of AIUDF, took to Twitter to condemn the Army chief’s remark.

“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 and secular values, is rising faster than BJP? Alternative parties like AIUDF, AAP have grown because of the misgovernance of big parties,” he wrote.

Tagging the official Twitter handle of Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Prime Minister’s Office, Ajmal wrote, “By making such statement, isn’t the Chief of Army Staff indulging into politics which is against the constitutional mandate given to him?”

 

In a statement, the Indian Army said that there was nothing political in the Army chief’s statement and that he was merely discussing “amalgamation and development”. To this, Ajmal posted a tweet asking why Gen Rawat was “dragging democratically elected political party”.

 

Lok Sabha MP and chief of All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) Asaduddin Owaisi, too, condemned the remark.

“The Army Chief should not interfere in political matters it is not his work to comment on the rise of a political party. Democracy and Constitution allows it and Army will always work under an elected civilian leadership,” he wrote on Twitter.

Former AAP leader Yogendra Yadav demanded an apology from Gen Rawat.

 

“Migration from Bangladesh will continue due to two reasons: one is shortage of space in Bangladesh due to floods and the other is a planned immigration because of Pakistan. They are playing a proxy game supported by China to keep the area disturbed,” the Army chief had said.