Political salvo at army chief Rawat

Guwahati: AIUDF president and Lok Sabha MP from Assam Badruddin Ajmal on Thursday said army chief General Bipin Rawat's negative comments about his party seem to be politically motivated.

Addressing a seminar in New Delhi on Wednesday, Gen. Rawat had implied that the illegal influx of migrants from Bangladesh led to "faster" growth of the AIUDF, an Opposition party widely believed to be espousing the cause of minorities.

"We respect Gen. Rawat but his comments appear to be politically motivated and as the army chief he has no authority to make such political statements. We will meet the President, the Prime Minister and the home minister to draw their attention to Rawat's objectionable comments," Ajmal said.

PTI had quoted Rawat as saying: "There is a party called AIUDF, if you look at... they have grown in a faster time-frame than the BJP has grown 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. Finally, what will be the state of Assam, we will have to take a call."

It is "unfortunate" that the army chief made a political statement, Ajmal said.

"There is nothing abnormal about the growth of our party, which is a democratic and secular political party recognised by the Election Commission. Rawat may have been misinformed and misguided by somebody," Ajmal said.

The AIUDF president said Gen. Rawat's comments could cause political turmoil the state when the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is being updated for detection of illegal migrants.

"Our stand on influx is very clear. We want the NRC to be updated at the earliest and deportation of illegal migrants according to the Assam Accord. If infiltration is still continuing, it is the government's job to stop it," Ajmal said.

AIUDF general secretary Aminul Islam wondered if Gen. Rawat is being used by the ruling party.

"Rawat's statement was sounding more like that by a RSS or BJP leader as he was appointed as army chief by the Modi government superseding two senior officers. No doubt there is a hidden agenda behind him targeting us," Islam said.

"Earlier he had commented on topics which were outside his ambit like making adverse comments on school education system in government schools in J&K," Islam said.

The AIUDF was founded by Ajmal, a perfume baron from Hojai district in central Assam in October 2005. It won 10 seats in its debut Assembly polls in 2006 and bagged one seat in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. Its tally rose to 18 seats in the 2011 Assembly polls and three seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The party won in 13 of the 126 seats in the 2016 Assembly polls.

Though there is no official count, according to organisations like the Assam Public Works (APW), an NGO, there are around 80 lakh illegal migrants in Assam. APW had filed a PIL in the Supreme Court in 2009 to update the NRC for detection of foreigners.


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