Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal-United on Friday made a fresh plea to the Narendra Modi government at the Centre for an immediate review of the Agnipath scheme, and assure protesting youngsters that their future will not be adversely affected by the new recruitment policy in the armed forces.
JD-U national president Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan, an old associate of the chief minister of Bihar, which is bearing the brunt of the agitations, came out with a video message to the effect.
”The announcement of Agnipath scheme by the Centre has triggered resentment among youths of Bihar and other parts of the country. The Centre should, therefore, think of an immediate review (avilamb punarvichar) of the scheme. If that is not possible, it must assure the youngsters that the scheme is not going to adversely affect their future,” Singh said.
The JD-U is the largest alliance partner of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which rules the Centre. Singh had made a similar demand on Thursday, taking to the social media.
The party's parliamentary board president Upendra Kushwaha had appeared to be in disagreement with the BJP's contention that the protests were orchestrated.
”The protests appear to be spontaneous (swatah sphoort),” he had said.
Opposition parties have been unanimous in criticising the move.
Leader of the opposition Tejashwi Yadav has expressed apprehensions about provisions of the scheme like discharge, without pensionary benefits, after four years of service.
He has also sought to know whether the new scheme of contractual employment will do away with caste-based reservations.
The Congress, which staged demonstrations in various cities, burning effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for alleged harassment of its leader Rahul Gandhi by the ED, also used the occasion to rail against the Agnipath scheme.
Left outfits like the SUCI and youth and student wings of the CPI-M have expressed support to the ongoing stir, which has resulted in large-scale destruction of public property and disruption of rail and road traffic.
Besides, Jamui MP Chirag Paswan, who heads a breakaway faction of the LJP founded by his late father Ram Vilas Paswan, has also written to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, seeking a review of the new system.
In the face of mounting opposition, the government had on Thursday announced that age limit under the new scheme will be raised from 21 years to 23 years for 2022 in view of the fact that no recruitments took place in the last couple of years.