New Delhi: Former army chief and Union Minister VK Singh today defended his military successor General Bipin Rawat’s remarks about the rise of the AIUDF and changing demography in the northeast drew.
The Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs said the Army chief should be allowed to say whatever he wants to. “We have a habit of politicizing everything. Let the army chief say what he wants to. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it,” Singh said.
Rawat triggered a controversy with his remarks, purportedly linking AIUDF’s rise with the increase in Muslim population in Assam. “There is a party called AIUDF (All India United Democratic Front). They have grown in a faster time-frame than the Bharatiya Janata Party (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,” General Rawat said. He made this statement while addressing North East Region of India Bridging Gaps and Securing Borders Summit in New Delhi on Wednesday. Rawat was slammed for his remarks by opposition parties, including the Congress and the Left, but the BJP said there was nothing new in what he had said and that the Supreme Court had expressed the same view some time back.
“We respect Rawat as the Army chief but the comments made by him on AIUDF is not within his constitutional jurisdiction and we have sought appointment with the President, Prime Minister and Union Home minister to seek clarification,” AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal told reporters in Guwahati.
Slamming the “politically driven comments” of Rawat, Ajmal said, “the Constitution has given army chief the responsibility to lead the armed forces for the security of the nation and not to monitor the growth of a political party.”
The Army, however, said there was nothing political or religious in what Rawat said. “There is nothing political or religious in the talk. The Chief of Army Staff just mentioned amalgamation and development (of the region) in the seminar on the Northeast organised at the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) Bhawan,” said an Army source in New Delhi.