It’s not very often that the Army Chief expresses his opinion on the political affairs of the Indian state; forget talking specifically about the politics of an Indian province. But this time, the current Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat, was compelled to take up the issue of the complex situation in the politics of the Indian state of Assam, a strategically important province situated near the country of Bangladesh, and currently governed by BJP under the efficient leadership of CM Sarbananda Sonowal.
In a recent speech at the DRDO Bhawan, on the issue of illegal immigration from Bangladesh into Assam, Gen. Bipin Rawat raised his concern on the two-front conspiracy of Pakistan and China to keep the area disturbed. To quote him, ‘A planned immigration is taking place because of our western neighbor. They will always try and ensure that this area is taken over, playing the proxy dimension of warfare……..We will continue to see some migration happening. The solution lies in identifying the problem and holistically looking at it.’
Gen. Bipin Rawat isn’t off the mark either. Illegal immigration from Bangladesh is another menace that the Indians have to deal, apart from Chinese aggression and cross border terrorism, sponsored by Pakistan. While the situation is almost disastrous in West Bengal, the position of Assam wasn’t much better either. It’s almost a year and a half since Sarbananda Sonowal and Himanta Biswa Sarma have assumed the post of CM and Deputy CM respectively in Assam, but the way they’ve channelized the government’s efforts towards curbing this problem, including the setup of a national citizens’ register, which would bring out the number of illegal citizens residing in Assam, is nothing short of a commendable step, and a welcome relief from the blatant apathy that their predecessor, Tarun Gogoi, showed towards this issue, in order to keep his Bangladeshi votebank alive.
Gen. Bipin Rawat also posed concern on the explosive rise in the stature of AIUDF; a minority based political party led by Badruddin Ajmal, which has been often accused of giving secret assistance to illegal immigrants and is also an ally of the Congress led UPA, Assam wing.
In his statement, Gen. Bipin Rawat said, ‘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.’ While referring to the BJP winning only 2 seats in 1984, he also remarked, ‘The AIUDF is moving at a faster pace in Assam.’
While the General said this in earnest spirit, this wasn’t taken lightly by the opposition, especially the notorious Indian intelligentsia, who went out all guns blazing on Gen. Bipin Rawat, accusing him of foul play and primarily catering to the whims and fancies of BJP. Leading the attack was Asaduddin Owaisi, who told that it is not ‘army chief’s job to comment on political parties.’
What,the Army Chief should not interfere in political matters it is not his work to comment on the rise of a political party ,Democracy & Constitution allows it and Army will always work under an Elected Civilian leadership https://t.co/PacWqqYXz1
— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) February 22, 2018
— Sudheendra Kulkarni (@SudheenKulkarni) February 23, 2018
We demand a high-level inquiry into General Bipin Rawat's claim that Pakistan & China had a role in illegal immigration into the state.
I was CM for 15 years but nobody, not even an army official, ever told me about Pakistan or China being involved in infiltration in Assam../1
— Tarun Gogoi (@tarun_gogoi) February 24, 2018
Reacting to Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat's remark that the AIUDF has been growing faster than the #BJP in Assam, the #Congress party said the government and the BJP are trying to divert attention from the #PNB fraud case https://t.co/WTVzEnXaj3
— National Herald (@NH_India) February 23, 2018
Even the statement issued in clarification by the Indian Army, who assured that Gen. Rawat targeted none personally, fell on deaf ears. Not the one to be left behind, Rajdeep Sardesai too joined the slugfest, accusing the Army Chief of being a ‘BJP agent’. It was only after a massive backlash by the social media, that this journalist was forced to retract his statement, and suggest Owaisi to read the whole speech before jumping to conclusions:-
Is he army chief or a politician? https://t.co/Ln0m21ApjW
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) February 22, 2018
When you read the entire speech by Gen Rawat, you realise that he's mainly spoken of 'amalgamating' all communities in the north-east. @asadowaisi needs to read full speech next time and so do I!! #ArmyAbovePolitics
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) February 22, 2018
So the question arises: Did Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat cross his limits with his statements on the illegal migrants issue in Assam?
Certainly not. Given the change in the demographics of many states in India, especially in sensitive ones close to the border, like J&K, Assam etc., it is only natural that Gen. Bipin Rawat would feel concerned on any unusual development in the local politics. However, it is futile to explain this to the Indian media and the opposition, who in their blind hatred for the current PM, won’t even hesitate in insulting the people responsible for the security of the nation, even if it puts the nation in jeopardy. Also, it is absolutely terrifying when someone starts addressing the elephant in the room, more terrifying when that some one is the chief of the Army Staff.
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