Mayawati, BSP, Congress, INDIA, BJP, Uttar Pradesh
"The only option for Mayawati to remain politically relevant is to enter into alliances with other parties," said Yatindra Singh Sisodia, a professor. (File photo)

'Detrimental for youth': Varun Gandhi, Mayawati slam Agnipath

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Amid the growing chorus of voices protesting against the government’s new “transformative” Agnipath scheme, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati on Thursday (June 16) slammed the Union government over this new process of recruiting soldiers, terming it “unfair towards rural youth”.

The ‘Agnipath’ scheme is a government recruitment initiative, in which soldiers can join the army, navy and air force on a four-year contractual basis.

Also read: Agnipath scheme decoded: How to join, salary, benefits — and criticism

Under this scheme, around 45,000 to 50,000 soldiers will be recruited annually to serve as Agniveers, out of which most will have to leave after four years. Only 25 per cent will be allowed to continue for another 15 years under permanent commission. This move is aimed at creating a more leaner force and fitter force (currently, India’s armed force strength is over 13-lakh) and lower the defence pension expenditure, which has been a major concern for governments for many years.

Criticising the government for keeping the recruitment to the army pending for a long time and then coming out with the Agnipath scheme, Mayawati tweeted that though it has been called an attractive scheme, the youths of the country are dissatisfied and angry. “They are openly opposing the change in army recruitment system,” said Mayawati in her Hindi tweet.

Also read: Protests over Agnipath: Aspirants resort to arson, violence in Bihar, Rajasthan

According to Mayawati, the youth believed that the government is limiting the soldiers’ tenure to four years in order to eliminate pension benefits in the army and government jobs. This is “grossly unfair and deleterious to the future of rural youth and their families,” she pointed out, adding that it will add to the woes of the people suffering from the high inflation and poverty.

The rising poverty, unemployment, wrong policies, and arrogant working style of the government and the growing uneasiness over this new recruitment system is leading to anxiety, she stressed. The BSP demanded that the government should reconsider its decision over this new system immediately.

Congress leader Sachin Pilot warned on Twitter that the country can’t afford to play with future of our youth and nor can we afford to risk the functionality and effectiveness of our armed forces. Meanwhile, BJP MP Varun Gandhi shot off a letter to the defence minister Rajnath Singh. He wrote that this new system will give rise to more “disaffection” among the youths and asked the government to make its stand clear.

Since 75 per cent of soldiers will have to leave their jobs after four years, their numbers will only keep rising every year, he said. This will increase the disaffection among the youth. Further, he questioned the government about the future prospects for these retired soldiers especially since the corporate sector does not even hire the regular military personnel who retire after 15 years.

Also read: Army’s regimental system won’t change, claims Centre amid swirl of protests

As only 25 per cent of the Agniveers will be incorporated into the armed forces, the soldiers would have trained at a cost which will go waste. This will be an unnecessary burden on the budget, said Gandhi in his letter to Rajnath Singh. The government should keep the interest of unemployed youth paramount and bring out various policy aspects of this initiative, he said.

The Agnipath policy was unveiled by the government on Tuesday. Sharing details during the launch, Singh had said that under the ‘Agnipath’ scheme, Indian youth will be provided an opportunity to serve in the armed forces as ‘Agniveer’. This scheme has been brought to strengthen the security of the country, said Singh calling it a transformative scheme.

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