Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Tuesday endorsed the suggestion of Leader of Opposition Partap Singh Bajwa of bringing a resolution against the ‘Agnipath’ scheme for military recruitment.
During the zero hours in the ongoing budget session in the Vidhan Sabha, senior Congress leader Bajwa raised the issue of Agnipath’, arguing the scheme will “negatively” affect the youth of Punjab.
Bajwa expressed apprehension that with the scheme, Punjab’s representation in the Army will plunge from 7.8 per cent currently to 2.3 per cent in future.
”This scheme is against the interests of Punjab,” Bajwa said in the assembly house.
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He demanded the CM bring a joint resolution in the current assembly session against the Agnipath scheme.
Mann dubbed the matter an “emotive issue” and endorsing Bajwa’s suggestion, said that all state assemblies in the country should bring a resolution against the scheme.
”I am against this and I agree with you,” Mann said responding to Bajwa’s suggestion, adding it will be considered.
Mann also took on the Centre over demonetisation, the three farm laws – now repealed, and the goods and services tax.
On the Agnipath scheme, Mann said, ”When we think about the idea that a 17-year-old youth will join the defence forces, and most of them will return after mere four years of service … They will become ‘ex’ within four years without even any benefits that ex-servicemen are entitled to.” ”I strictly oppose this scheme,” he said.
Hitting out at the BJP, Mann said, ”Their leader Kailash Vijayvargiya is saying if he has to appoint security personnel at his party office, he would give priority to those who have served as ‘Agniveers’. This is shameful.” Mann said that he fails to understand why the BJP government brings such laws which face ”opposition” from several quarters.
”They brought farm laws, the CAA, now Agnipath, and every time they bring these laws they keep saying once people understand they will realise their benefits. Are they the only ones wise enough to understand everything? Those laws which people cannot understand should not be made,” he said. Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Sharma defended the Agnipath scheme and alleged that the house was being misled over this issue.
Countering Bajwa on his suggestion, he said “it is their compulsion to oppose it (Agnipath) for the sake of opposition.” ”They know if this scheme is implemented, they will not come to power in 2029 as well,” said the BJP leader.
Ten days ago some youths had held a protest against Agnipath in Jalandhar and spoken to Mann over the phone. Mann, besides advising them to hold their protests peacefully, had assured them that the Aam Aadmi Party supports their demands and was in favour of the rollback of the scheme.