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Trinamool, Left call for scrapping 'Agnipath' scheme

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Kolkata, June 16 (Ajit Weekly News) Agitations against “Agneepath”, the proposed short-term entry scheme to the Indian armed forces, are yet to be seen in West Bengal. However, the state’s ruling and opposition parties, except the BJP, have called for immediate scrapping of the scheme and a formal announcement from the Centre on this count.

The ruling Trinamool Congress feels that this scheme is a ploy to replace the system of appointment of regular soldiers in the armed forces with dyed-in-the wool BJP and RSS hardcores as “mercenary soldiers”. The party is also chalking out a strategy to oppose this scheme within and outside the Parliament in the coming days.

Trinamool Rajya Sabha member, Dr Santanu Sen told Ajit Weekly News that after divesting stakes in the different central public sector undertakings at a throw-away price, this is yet another disastrous experiment that the BJP-led Union government is trying to implement in the armed forces.

“We are opposing it on multiple grounds. Our first question is what would be the future of the so-called ‘agniveers’, especially for those who are not absorbed in the forces after completion of services since there will be no retirement benefits like pension after completion of those four years. The second question is whether a youth joining under the scheme can dedicate himself at par with regular recruits when he knows very well that his future is uncertain after four years. Is it not a compromise with the efficiency standards of the armed forces?” he said.

According to him, the agitations that have started in some states against this scheme are bound to spread in other states as well including the BJP-ruled states. “As we can see that agitations so far are concentrated mainly in the BJP-ruled states. We, on behalf of Trinamool Congress, will oppose the scheme tooth and nail within and outside the Parliament,” he said.

CPI-M Central Committee member and former Left legislative party leader, Dr Sujan Chakraborty said that his party’s Politburo has made its stand clear by thoroughly disapproving the scheme. “The professional standards of the Indian armed forces cannot be compromised by replacing regular recruitments by mercenaries or contractual soldiers. And since their future is unsure after a period of four years there is a possibility that they will end up joining private militias. This is a dangerous proposition,” he said.

On the other hand, BJP’s state spokesman, Shamik Bhattacharya said that the opposition parties are unnecessarily trying to mislead people by deliberately shadowing the positive aspects of the scheme. “But the opposition’s attempts to create disruption on this issue will not fructify in the long run,” he said.

However, even a section of the retired defence officers in West Bengal are skeptical about the success and applicability of the scheme. Talking to Ajit Weekly News, Colonel Rajendra Bhadhuri (retired), a former Armoured Corps officer, said that the policy does not say that 25 per cent will be absorbed in the three regular wings of army, navy and air force.

“The policy says that based on the organisational requirement, not more than 25 per cent will be considered for re-enrolment. This re-enrolment is also subject to terms and conditions including performance appraisal of the individuals in their four years of service. This means while 75 per cent will be returned back to a non-military future, additional persons out of the balance 25 per cent are not assured to be retained either,” he said.

–Ajit Weekly News

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