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Allies urge Centre to 'rethink' over Agnipath scheme

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
June 16, 2022 23:43 IST
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A key political aide of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday said the large scale protests against the Centre's 'Agnipath' scheme appeared to be a 'spontaneous' expression of outrage by young Army aspirants.

IMAGE: Youngsters being chased away by police personnel during their protest against governments newly introduced Agnipath scheme, at Birlanagar Junction railway station, in Gwalior, on Thursday, June 16, 2022. Photograph: PTI Photo

Janata Dal-United parliamentary board chief Upendra Kushwaha said that violence was 'deplorable' but hastened to add 'Besides making an appeal for peace, we can do little'.

"We have been learnt about the angry protests which appear spontaneous," said Kushwaha, who is also a former union minister.

He said in the face of such stiff opposition, JD-U has urged the Centre to 'rethink' the scheme, which proposes contractual employment in the armed forces and compulsory retirement of jawans after four years of service without pensionary benefits.

 

"If a rethink is not possible, then at least for the time being its implementation should be put on hold," said Kushwaha about the tour of duty scheme which was unveiled by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh earlier this week 'with immediate effect'.

The JD-U is the largest alliance partner of Bharatiya Janata Party, which is facing criticism over the new scheme brought by the Narendra Modi government at the Centre.

The views expressed by Kushwaha were at variance with those of BJP leaders in Bihar like Sushil Kumar Modi who has alleged that 'anti-social elements' were on the prowl, masquerading as protesters.

Another BJP leader from Bihar, Union minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey issued an appeal 'beware of instigators' to youths.

Interestingly, the issue has brought JD-U on the same page with Kumar's bete noire Chirag Paswan who has written to defence minister requesting a rethink on the scheme.

Another ally of the BJP, former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday suggested a rethink on the Centre's Agnipath scheme, wondering why the government had to make such 'radical' changes.

"It will dilute the long existing distinct ethos of regiments," said Amarinder Singh, who is a former Army captain.

According to a statement, he wondered why the government needed to make such 'radical changes' in the recruitment policy, which has been working 'so well for the country for so many years'.

"Hiring soldiers for four years, with effective service of three years, is not at all militarily a good idea," said Amarinder Singh, whose party Punjab Lok Congress is an ally of the BJP in Punjab.

Amarinder Singh opposed the 'all-India, all class' recruitment policy.

He said different regiments like the Sikh Regiment, Dogra Regiment, Madras Regiment and so on have their own distinct ethos, which is very important from the military point of view and which seems to have been overlooked.

He said it will be very difficult for recruits from different cultural backgrounds to adjust to a culturally different environment that is exclusive to a particular regiment and that too within such a short span of time, which effectively comes to less than three years.

The already existing short duration tenure system of seven and five years is fine, but four years, which once training and leave period are excluded, effectively comes to less than three years, will not be workable, he said.

"It will never be workable for a professional army which is faced with tough challenges on both eastern as well as western theatres," he remarked.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra© Copyright 2022 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
 
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