Will the Agniveer issue impact the vote?

Ananya Shroff
5 Min Read

market : Kotli village is about 16 km from Mandi in Himachal Pradesh. Here, someone from almost every house is in the Indian Army. Even now the youth are preparing to join the army. But, there is resentment among the youth about the Agniveer scheme. Congress is trying to capitalize on the resentment about the Agniveer scheme. Bhupendra Singh says, 'My younger brother was preparing to join the army. Recruitment did not happen due to Covid and then when it happened, it was said that now recruitment will be done in Agniveer. He could not get recruited and many of his friends have also given up the dream of joining the army. The reason for this is that there is neither any pension here nor the status of martyr on death.' Then he starts explaining in detail how two different categories of Agniveer and soldiers have been formed. He asks whether the value of the life of both is different. He says that there is resentment among the youth about the Agniveer scheme, but still many youth are joining the army under the Agniveer scheme for four years out of compulsion.

We met a woman at a Dhaba in a village near Mandi. She runs a Dhaba with her husband. When we talked about the elections, she clearly said that she is a supporter of Modi ji, so the vote will go there. When we talked about Agniveer, she told that her son had passed the physical test for recruitment in the army, only the written test was left. But in the middle, the Agniveer scheme came and the old exams were canceled. My son is very angry and says that he will not vote for BJP at all. I am convincing him to vote for BJP. I don't know what he will do while voting.

Congress is trying to capitalize on this issue

Agniveer is becoming an issue in Himachal Pradesh. Congress is also trying to cash in on it. Congress has promised that if its government comes to power, it will end the Agneepath scheme and implement the old system of recruitment. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is also constantly mentioning it in many of his rallies. When some youth were talked to about the Agniveer scheme near the Mandi bus stop, a youth said that Congress has made a promise but it is not known what they will do. He said that many promises were made before 2014 but were they fulfilled? A youth said, 'I prepared for recruitment in the army for three years, then the Agniveer scheme came. He said that instead of going for four years, now I am managing my father's shop. When he was asked if he is angry with the BJP over Agniveer, he said that now he will not be happy. Will he vote because of this anger? In response to this, he just laughed.

Questions were raised in the assembly elections

Ever since the implementation of the Agniveer scheme, it was being opposed because the Agnipath scheme was implemented suddenly and there were thousands of youth whose medical, physical and other examinations had been done and only the call letter was pending. All those processes were cancelled. It was also said that now recruitment as Agniveer will be for four years. During the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, Congress had also raised the issue of Agnipath scheme and opposed it. BJP was out of power in the elections and Congress government was formed in Himachal. There are about 1.30 lakh ex-servicemen in the state. About 1.25 lakh people from the state are serving in the army. There are about 30 thousand widows of soldiers. In this way, about 9-10 lakh people are from the families of soldiers or ex-servicemen.

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