Indian External Affairs Minister VK Singh has come out in defence of army chief Gen Bipin Rawat's controversial remarks on illegal immigration of people from Bangladesh to the country's northeastern region.
"See, we have a habit of politicising everything. Let the army chief say what he wants to. If you don't like it, you don't like it. That's it," Singh, a former army chief, told reporters in Mumbai on Friday evening on the sidelines of an event.
"Everything is being politicised these days," he said.
Referring to reports of increase in Muslim population in several districts of northeastern state of Assam, Gen Rawat had said the Badruddin Ajmal-led All India United Democratic Front's growth has been faster than that of BJP in 1980s.
Addressing a seminar in New Delhi on Wednesday, Rawat also said a "planned" influx of people from Bangladesh into the northeast is taking place as part of “proxy warfare” by Pakistan with support from China with an aim to keep the area disturbed.
Badruddin Ajmal criticised the serving army chief for his "politically-driven comments" and said his responsibility was to lead the armed forces for the security of the nation and not to monitor the growth of a political party.
Meanwhile, The Hindu in its editorial yesterday termed Rawat's comments “unusual by any standards.”
“India's service chiefs have a long and healthy tradition of keeping away from political subjects in their public comments. But at a seminar in Delhi this week, General Rawat strayed into political commentary when he talked about issues of religious identity, demographics and India's relations with its neighbours,” it said.
“There is a risk of hostile rejoinders from India's regional rivals. It also risks reactions from home, which have already come in the form of a sharp response from the All India United Democratic Front,” commented the newspaper.
According to The Hindu, this is not the first time that Gen Rawat's comments have evoked a response from political quarters. Last month, the Jammu and Kashmir education minister reacted when Gen Rawat criticised government schools in the state for mounting two maps, “one of India and the other of J&K”.
“Even if such remarks were made in good faith, the point is that they can result in needless controversies that do nothing to promote the Army's strong and fully deserving image of an institution that is above politics,” the daily said.