Violent Protests Erupt Against Agnipath, BJP's Varun Gandhi Says 'More Disaffection' Likely

The MP's letter, which echoes Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's concerns, comes at a time when protests are being seen across the country against the scheme. Several veterans have raised concerns about the feasibility of recruiting temporary soldiers too.

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New Delhi: As pros and cons of Agnipath – the Union government’s new plan to recruit temporary soldiers in the armed forces – are being debated and violent protests take place in Bihar, Bharatiya Janata Party MP Varun Gandhi has weighed in with his criticisms of the scheme.

In a letter to the defence minister Rajnath Singh, the maverick MP from Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit said that the recruitment of soldiers on a short-term contractual basis will not merely create disaffection among the youth but also burden the defence budget disproportionately, given the evidently restricted gains for the armed forces through the scheme. 


He expressed concern about the possibility of rising unemployment every year, since the scheme proposes to retire 75% of recruits after a period of four years without pension. This may lead to “more disaffection” among the youth, he said. 

He said that he was writing to the defence minister since a number of youth have expressed their anguish over the scheme on social media.

Also read | Trains Set on Fire as Agnipath Protests Rage in Bihar for Second Day

Pointing out that the corporate sector has shown very little interest in recruiting even regular military personnel who retire from the armed forces after 15 years, Gandhi said that in such a situation, the possibility of the private sector recruiting those who serve in the forces only for four years is negligible. 

Gandhi said that the four-year employment plan may additionally disrupt the regular cycle of education for new recruits. The temporary service in the armed forces may set the recruits back against their contemporaries, he said, adding that the recruits will find it difficult to get another job as they will be older to others with better qualifications. 

Additionally, he said that the six-month training programme may prove to be an “unnecessary burden on the defence budget”, given the fact that only 25% of the new recruits will be retained after four years. He added that the existing regiments will also find it difficult to give proper duties to those soldiers who they know will retire in four years, thus hampering the working of the forces. 

He said that while the government should focus on unemployed youth, it should immediately bring out details of the scheme and clarify its position on issues that are being raised about it at the moment.

Gandhi’s letter has come at a time when a large number of youths, especially in Bihar, have been protesting across the country against the scheme. Some of these protests have turned violent as well, with a train having been set on fire in Bihar’s Bhabua on June 16. In videos aired by channels and seen on social media, hundreds of youths were seen chanting slogans, smashing trains windows and eventually setting it on fire.

In Jehanabad, hundreds of protestors blocked National Highway-83 and burned tyres on the streets demanding the Union government withdraw the scheme. Tyre burning also took place in the state’s Nawada district where railway tracks were blocked. At the Arrah railway station, protestors reportedly threw scooters and furniture onto the railway track and set them ablaze.

Several veterans have raised concerns about the feasibility of recruiting temporary soldiers.

The BJP MP echoes cousin and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s views on Agnipath. Earlier in the day, Rahul Gandhi tweeted to say that the new recruitment plan does not dignify the new recruits with either good pay or tenure, and nor does it guarantee a secure future for them.

A day ago, Varun Gandhi, who has frequently taken a divergent view from his party on different issues, had said that even the government is elected for five years and asked, “Why are the youth being given only four years to serve the nation?”

He had also shared the remuneration scale for temporary soldiers recruited through the Agnipath scheme, and asked his followers to give their opinion about the same.

He also reminded the Prime Minister Narendra Modi about his promise of providing two crore jobs every years, and appealed to him to work with greater speed to achieve the goal.