By Sushil Kutty
Army chief Gen. Bipin Rawat draws a link between the AIDUF’s expansion in Assam to a ‘planned illegal immigration’ taking place because of a ‘proxy war’ engineered by Pakistan and China and all hell breaks loose. ‘Muslimeen’ politician Asauddin Owaisi promptly attacks the Chief and the rest of them follow suit – the Congress Party, Brinda Karat, Majeed Memon… CPI leader Atul Anjaan equates Gen. Rawat to fanatic Pakistan dictator Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, much to the outrage of the BJP.
Owaisi and AIDUF chief Badruddin Ajmal remind him that “the Army will always be” under the thumb of the “Civilian Leadership”. They have accused him of toeing the RSS/BJP line. These guys should be told that Gen. Bipin Rawat is not a ‘batboy’ assigned to serve Prime Minister Narendra Modi or to forward the BJP’s political agenda. He is ‘Chief’ of one of the most professional armies of the modern world, totally and completely apolitical. To impute that he was ‘RSS/BJP’ is naïve, to say the least, and stupid!
Gen. Rawat’s words were solely for Army ears, delivered at a conference organized by the Centre for Joint Warfare Studies. The nosey TRP-starved television media picked it up and went to town with it, calling up the usual suspects to ratchet up the rhetoric. Standard operating procedure for the television media. It didn’t take long for the talking heads to stir the pot and make a stew of the general’s words to land him in a soup.
What did Gen Bipin Rawat say? “I don’t think you can change the population dynamics of the area. If it was five districts to eight to nine, that inversion has taken place, whichever be the government…there is a party called AIUDF (All India United Democratic Front). If you look at, they have grown in a faster time-frame than the BJP grew over the years. When we talk of Jan Sangh, with two members of parliament and where they have reached, the AIUDF is moving at a faster pace in the state of Assam. Finally, what will be the state of Assam, we have to take a call.”
Left to as it is, it was a summation of a ‘situation’ conveyed to army officers fighting a counter-insurgency war in Assam and other states of the northeast. It was the ‘Chief’ telling his boys ‘this is what you’re facing’. It shouldn’t have ruffled any feathers. The Army chief’s words were not for Owaisi’s consumption but… “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”, the Musilmeen politician tweeted, drawing all sorts of inferences from the Chief’s speech.
General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Army Staff (CoAS), had every right to sum up the Assam situation to his officers. He wasn’t crossing any ‘Lakshman Rekha’. If anything, Pakistan, China and loads of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants were those who crossed a line. The Army doesn’t work in a pre-sanitised military environment. It has to operate in a given socio-political milieu and be aware as well as beware of the situation. Like Pvt. Ryan in Hollywood movies tells his captain, “There is a situation, Sir.”
If anybody was interfering, it was Owaisi and Brinda Karat, the assorted mullahs and maulanas, bloated-ego journalists and know-all political analysts, the “northeast-observers”. Gen. Bipin Rawat was not telling his officers that they should forthwith march to set things right. He was telling them that things have come to a stage where nothing much could be done. The population dynamics of Assam have been set. So, don’t go down that slope.
Of course, there are media that say there cannot be illegal immigration from Bangladesh anymore because human development indicators (HDI) there are by far better than they are today in India. But don’t Malayalees continue to go to Gulf countries from Kerala despite the state boasting enviable HDI? Legal and illegal immigration take place for a complex set of reasons. Some even to wage ‘proxy wars’ at the instigation of parties hostile to a country/region. For example, what has been happening to Europe in recent years?
The ‘fear of the other’ has been a constant in Assam for decades. The state is awash with ‘outsiders’ – from other Indian states and Bangladesh. So much so, the indigenous people of Assam have started feeling outnumbered by ‘outsiders’. The BJP was elected to power on the promise of halting illegal immigration but it has failed to do so. It gets downright stupid then to suggest that Gen. Rawat was mouthing RSS/BJP rhetoric. On the contrary, he was pointing to the BJP’s failure, putting the BJP government of Assam in the dock.
The point is: opposition parties one and all hate Gen. Rawat’s guts. They dislike him for targeting their core vote-banks. They hate him for calling the spade a spade. But the Chief cannot help it if the religion of Owaisi’s core and only vote-bank happens to be the same as followed by people of neighbouring countries. He can’t help it that Brinda Karat shares an ideology with China, a beaten ideology that the Chinese people would dump it in the bat of an eyelid but for the stranglehold on their lives by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army!
It beats logic that Karat targets the Chief of Army staff of India for “politicizing the Army” while full of admiration for the Chinese militaristic order which wouldn’t survive a week if the PLA takes a “hands off politics” approach and leaves Xi Jinping to the mercy of his people. Brinda Karat like most communists doesn’t know what she is talking about, if she is contradicting herself or simply making noise.
Media has been ranting against Gen Rawat for suggesting that illegal immigration from Bangladesh gets covert support from Pakistan and China; that both these enemies of India have been working together to destabilise India from the east and west, north! Sections of the media have mocked Gen Rawat for floating a balloon, “certainly new”, that Pakistan and China are a team, forgetting CPEC.
“Besides, how can he place a question-mark on the growth of a political party recognised by the Election Commission?” they ask. Gen. Rawat had said migration from Bangladesh has been taking place for two reasons. One, because people are running out of space in Bangladesh. Two, because China will always try and ensure that this area is taken over through proxy warfare. He said China has been engaged in a proxy game supported by Pakistan. Till the proxy warfare continues, illegal immigration will continue.
AIUDF chief and Lok Sabha MP Badruddin Ajmal also took to Twitter. “Gen Rawat has made a political statement, shocking!” he tweeted. “Why is it a concern for the Army Chief that a political party is rising faster than BJP?” Badruddin’s name is one of those missing from the National Registry of Citizens (NRC) being compiled by the state government. Media have been going around Assam searching for Hindus whose names are missing from the NRC to give interested pseudo-secular parties the excuse to raise a stink and question the NRC without appearing communal.
Midnight of December 31, 2017, the first draft of the NRC was published. Thousands and thousands of names were missing! Among them that of MLAs and MPs! What should be made of this? Was this because of shoddy registration? Or, was it a pointer to the fact that illegal immigration has been on for so long in Assam that today some of the illegal immigrants might also have become members of the state assembly and Parliament.
Gen. Rawat spoke of a “planned immigration” engineered by Pakistan and China. The comparison of one political party to another was what got the Left and Congress riled. That and joining Pakistan and China at the hip! (IPA Service)
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