New Delhi, Feb 22: The Army on Thursday said ‘there is nothing political or religious’ in General Bipin Rawat’s comments on Assam’s pro-Muslim party All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF). “There is nothing political or religious in the talk. Army chief just mentioned amalgamation and development in the seminar on North-East organised at DRDO Bhawan,” Army told news agency ANI.

On Wednesday, General Bipin Rawat remarked that AIUDF “has grown in a faster time frame than the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) grew over the years.” “There is a party called AIUDF. They have grown in a faster time frame than the BJP grew 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,” the Army chief said.

Reacting to General Rawat’s comment, AIUDF MLA Aminul Islam said that his party is growing because of the work they do for the “downtrodden”. “AIUDF is working for the downtrodden. This is why our popularity is growing faster than BJP. We are hopeful that people of Assam irrespective of caste and creed, will accept AIUDF and our party will come to power soon,” he told ANI.

AIUDF president Badruddin Ajmal said that it was “shocking” for an army chief to indulge in politics. “General Bipin Rawat has made a political statement, shocking! Why is it a concern for the Army Chief that a political party, based on democratic and secular values, is rising faster than BJP?” the post read. “Alternative parties like AIUDF, AAP have grown because of the misgovernance of big parties. By making such statement, isn’t the Chief of Army Staff indulging into politics which is against the constitutional mandate given to him?” the Lok Sabha MP said.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi also criticised General Bipin Rawat saying it was not his work to comment on the rise of a political party. Owaisi also added that “democracy and Constitution” allow different political parties to grow and “Army will always work under an Elected Civilian leadership.”