Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya on Sunday courted controversy when he said that Agniveers recruited under the Centre’s recently announced Agnipath scheme will be given priority while recruiting security guards for the BJP’s offices.
“Discipline and following commands is an integral part of military training. When an Agniveer comes out after serving in the defence sector for four years at the age of even 25 years, he will have ₹11 lakh with him. He will have the tag of an Agniveer that he can proudly display. If I want to hire security for the BJP office, I will give priority to Agniveer,” Mr. Vijayvargiya, one of the senior-most BJP leaders in the State, said at a press conference in Indore on Saturday.
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As soon as the video of the presser went viral, the statement attracted backlash from various quarters. BJP MLA Varun Gandhi took to Twitter where he shared the video and wrote that those inviting Indian soldiers, “whose valour reverberates in the whole world”, to guard the offices of a political party should keep such offers to themselves. The tweet in Hindi further added that the army was a medium to serve “Mother India” and not merely a job.
The Madhya Pradesh Congress, too, criticised Mr. Vijayvargiya for his statement. K. K. Mishra, the president of its State unit, said the statement was a gross insult to the valour of not only the youth of the country but the Indian Army and that this was also a senseless attempt to rub salt on the wounds of youths protesting against the Agnipath scheme.
In response to Mr. Vijayvargiya’s statement and another one by Union Minister G. Kishan Reddy, who allegedly said that armed forces would be a training ground for skilled labour work force such as drivers, electricians, etc. under the Agneepath recruitment scheme, All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen’s Asaduddin Owaisi tweeted: “Modi’s Minister @kishanreddybjp says #Agniveers will be trained as drivers, dhobis etc.. Serving in army is a prestigious profession with no parallel. These men are willing to kill or get killed for India. If they wanted to be drivers, etc why would they spend 4 years in army?.. It’s clear that BJP sees Agniveers as nothing but chowkidaars on hire (sic).”
Clarifying his stance on Twitter, Mr. Vijayvargiya said: “Agniveer who came out of Agneepath scheme will definitely be trained and committed to duty, his excellence will be used in whatever field he goes after completing his service in the army. That is clearly what I meant.” He alleged that people associated with “Toolkit” were trying to insult workers by distorting his statement.