Taking umbrage of the Indian Army chief's remarks that the AIUDF has been facilitating the influx of Bangladeshis into Assam, to trigger a demographic change in the state, party general secretary Aminul Islam addressed a press conference in Guwahati saying the statement lacks reality and the army chief should not indulge in politics.
Islam said, as per CNN-News18: "We as a political party have been upfront in demanding the NRC (National Register of Citizens) both at the Parliament and in the Assembly. Around 80 percent work of the NRC is over. The demand for NRC is a long one and has been pending since 1985. Although the state and Centre sought more time to complete the NRC process, the Supreme Court only a couple of days back made it clear that the final draft should be submitted to the apex court by 30 June. Different levels of verifications are going on for the NRC. We don't have any hidden agenda. We have always sought border fencing. In fact, we have always demanded the complete sealing of the India-Bangladesh border."
Islam further said that the party came into being in October 2005. AIUDF fought the first Assembly polls in 2006. So far, the party has fought two parliamentary polls, three Assembly elections and two panchayat polls. "We are a regional party from Assam. We have worked for the state. We are concerned about General (Bipin) Rawat's comments," Islam said.
Training his gun on General Rawat, the AIUDF general secretary also said that the remark from the topmost general was uncalled for.
"This remark is unbecoming of an army chief. He had in the past also commented on the course curriculum in Jammu and Kashmir. His remarks are beyond his scope of duties. His statements are similar to ones made often by BJP and RSS spokespersons. The comments of the army chief have caused a political turmoil. If there is a possibility of Pakistan trying to push in illegal migrants the defence ministry should take steps to stem it. We fail to understand why General Rawat made such a comment despite being in charge of the entire security of the country. If he wants to join politics he should complete his tenure and then shift to politics. His comments gave a feeling that he wants to please someone for a plum political post," Islam said, as per CNN-News18.
The AIUDF general secretary also raised questions on General Rawat's appointment and said that he bypassed two senior generals to become the army chief. Seeking to reject claims about the AIUDF's political lineage, the party general secretary made it clear that the entity fulfils all norms prescribed by the poll panel which is expected from a political organisation.
"We are a registered political party. We have been given credentials by the Election Commission. We have electoral representatives from all communities including Hindus. We are very secular in nature," Islam said.
The AIUDF general secretary however also held a conciliatory note and expressed support to the army."The Indian Army is a strong one and because of them, the insurgency problem has come down. They have always upheld the sovereignty of the nation. We are with them," Islam said at the press conference, according to the news channel.
AIUDF chief Maulana Badruddin Ajmal added, "We are Indians, give us the right to live as Indians and stop calling us Bangladeshi immigrants since we called for the fencing of the borders. We have always supported the Assam Accord of 1971 and people's identity should be enquired on the basis of this. In the 1960s we had demanded the NRC. The statement is considered as an insult by the party. Anyone who came into Assam after 1971 is a foreigner, the state should take care of them."
Ajmal also said that the allegation that AIUDF is a Muslim party is wrong since there are enough members from different religions.
On Wednesday, while referring to the rise in the Muslim population in Assam in recent years, Rawat had pointed to the growth of the AIUDF and said, "There is a party called AIUDF. If you look at it, they have grown at a faster rate than the BJP grew over the years. The AIDUF is moving at a faster pace in Assam."
According to IANS, on 21 February, the army had defended Rawat's statements by saying that there was nothing political or religious in General Rawat's comments made in a seminar on the northeast at DRDO Bhavan."There is nothing political or religious in the talk. The Army Chief just mentioned amalgamation and development in the seminar," the army said.
Earlier on Thursday, Ajmal took to Twitter and urged the army chief to not exceed his constitutional mandate. He also said that the rise of "secular and democratic" parties like AIDUF and Aam Aadmi Party has been due to misgovernance by big parties. Ajmal said if the army was clarifying there was "nothing political" in the general's statement, "why was the army chief dragging a political party in his speech, whose representatives are democratically elected by Indian citizens."
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.
— M Badruddin Ajmal (@BadruddinAjmal) February 22, 2018
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Feb 22, 2018 18:12:12 IST