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Bihar: Opposition Mahagathbandhan MLAs and MLCs Protest in Assembly Premises Against Agnipath Scheme

RJD Leader on taking this protest from streets to Parliament and demanding a resolution for withdrawl of Agnipath Scheme

Patna: After protesting on streets ,the Opposition Mahagathbandhan, including Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Left wing parties’ MLAs and MLCs,staged a protest inside the Assembly premises on Friday against the Armed Forces Recruitment Scheme, Agnipath.

Mahagathbandhan MLAs and MLCs also demanded a resolution in the state assembly against the scheme.

On the first day of the monsoon session, minutes ahead of the formal start, MLAs and MLCs of RJD and Left parties, including the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) [CPI(ML)], Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)], Communist Party of India (CPI), staged protest and demanded withdrawal of the scheme.

Holding aloft hand-written placards, RJD and Left MLAs shouted slogans against the newly launched scheme by the Bharatiya Janata party-led National Democratic Alliance government and expressed their support for the protesting youths,mostly students.

Two days ago RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, who is also the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, while leading the protest march from Vidhan Sabha to Raj Bhawan said: “Mahagathbandhan is with youths protesting against the scheme and we will fight from ‘Sadak to Sansad’ (Streets to Parliament)”.

A RJD MLA Bhai Birendra, regarded close to Tejashwi ,said: “Mahagathbandhan will intensify its protest to safeguard the future of youths. Keeping this into consideration, we have demanded a unanimous resolution from the Bihar assembly for withdrawal of Agnipath scheme”.

RJD is likely to formally put a proposal for a resolution against the scheme on June 27 as assembly was adjourned on Friday after formal rituals.

The RJD MLA’s demand was supported by all 16 MLAs of the Left.

“Agnipath is totally against the interest of jobless youths ,who are aspirants for jobs in the armed forces. Central government of Narendra Modi is working contrary to providing jobs that resulted in growing anger among youths and large scale protests.We will fight against the government’s dictatorial decision” said CPI (ML) MLA Mahbob Alam.

The CPI (M) MLA Ajay Kumar said: “There should be a debate and discussion on the issue in the state assembly. The proposal of resolution in the assembly will expose who are in favour of the scheme or against it.That will make this clear who are worried about the future and livelihood of youths”.

Left MLAs said the government should withdraw FIRs against all protesters, mostly jobless youths, and hundreds of those arrested for protests against Agnipath and sent to jail should be released soon.

Though, MLAs and MLCs of Congress, an ally of Mahagathbandhan, stayed away from the protest march against the scheme and protests inside the Assembly premises, Congress MLA Ajit Sharma, said his party also demanded withdrawal of the scheme.

“We will raise the issue in the assembly next Monday and will demand withdrawal of the Agnipath scheme”.

Last week the BJP’s state ruling ally Janata Dal (United) demanded that the Centre reconsider the scheme. JD(U) National President Lalan Singh said that the Centre should take notice of the protests and “reconsider its decision”. Earlier, two senior JD(U) leaders minister Vijendra Prasad Yadav and senior party leader Upendra Kushwaha had demanded the withdrawal of the scheme. Another BJP ally Hindustani Awam Morcha supported the protesters and demanded the scrapping of the scheme.

But most of the top BJP leaders in Bihar defended the scheme and blamed the Opposition for the protests.

Protests against the scheme first erupted in Bihar last week and soon spread to several other states after the Modi government announced that 45,000 soldiers, airmen and sailors in the 17.5-21 age group would be recruited as Agniveers for only four years with only 25% of them being absorbed for another 15 years based on merit and performance. The rest will get a one-time tax-free Seva Nidhi package of around Rs 11.71 lakh with no gratuity or pension.

Bihar witnessed widespread protests against the scheme in all 38 districts for four to five days. During the protests around 60 bogies of over a dozen trains and seven locomotive engines were set ablaze, and several railway stations vandalised. Protesters blocked roads and railway tracks that disrupted trains movement and forced Railways to cancel more than 400 trains for a few days.

The state government also suspended internet services in 20 districts and imposed Section 144 in several districts.

According to ADG police headquarter JS Gangwar ,161 FIRs have been lodged by the police and around 922 protesters have been arrested so far.

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