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Bihar: Opp Boycotts Monsoon Session as Speaker Disallows Adjournment Motion on Agnipath

Tejashwi Yadav said that the opposition parties would stage a dharna near the Gandhi statue inside the Assembly premises on Wednesday against the Agnipath scheme.
Bihar: Opposition Boycotts Monsoon Session As Speaker Disallows the Adjournment Motion on Agnipath

Image Courtesy: PTI

Patna: Bihar Assembly witnessed protests on Tuesday, the second consecutive day, against the Armed Forces Recruitment Scheme, Agnipath, as the opposition Mahagathbandhan, including Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Left-wing parties and Congress' MLAs and MLCs, disrupted the proceedings, demanding withdrawal of the scheme.

Opposition members staged protests inside and outside the state Assembly with placards in their hands.

Soon after the Assembly sat for the day, opposition members demanded an adjournment motion to discuss the scheme. But the state Assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha, a senior BJP leader, disallowed the adjournment motion saying there was no need for it. He clarified that discussion would not be allowed as the matter did not relate to the Assembly.

After that, opposition members shouted slogans and repeatedly trooped into the well during the question hour. The speaker warned an MLA of CPI(ML) and requested other opposition MLAs to allow important listed businesses. But when the opposition continued their protests, the speaker adjourned the House twice, first till 12 pm and later till 2 pm.

When the house resumed at 2 pm, the speaker didn't relent on his stance. As a result, opposition members have decided to boycott the remaining days of the Monsoon session of the state Assembly, starting from Tuesday afternoon.

Tejashwi Yadav said that the opposition parties would stage a dharna near the Gandhi statue inside the Assembly premises on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, former chief minister Rabri Devi, an RJD MLC and wife of RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, stood with printed placards, protested and demanded the government withdraw FIRs against all protesters, mostly jobless youths.

Given aggressive opposition protests against Agnipath, heavy security forces have been deployed inside and outside the Assembly.

The speaker held a meeting of the business advisory committee with opposition leaders, but they were adamant about discussing the issue and refused to relent.

RJD MLA Bhai Birendra, regarded as close to RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, who is also the leader of the opposition in the Assembly, said the entire opposition is united on the issue against the scheme and demanded a unanimous resolution from the Bihar Assembly for withdrawal of Agnipath scheme.

Congress MLA Ajeet Sharma and CPI MLA Mahboob Alam supported the RJD's demand to pass a resolution in the state Assembly against the scheme.

The state Assembly was adjourned twice on the issue on Monday following opposition protests demanding the same.

On the first day of the monsoon session last Friday, minutes ahead of the formal start, MLAs and MLCs of RJD and Left parties had staged a protest and demanded the withdrawal of the scheme.

Tejashwi Yadav said Mahagathbandhan would intensify its protest to safeguard the future of youths.

"We will continue to protest against the scheme as it is related to national security and the livelihood of youths."

Opposition leaders expressed surprise over the total silence of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar on the scheme.

"Why has Kumar not spoken on the issue? He should come out to explain his stand," Devi said.

She also questioned BJP leaders in Bihar who defended the scheme and blamed the opposition RJD for the protests, saying protests against the scheme were reported all across the country, and RJD is not everywhere.

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.

Early this month, after supporting a day-long shutdown or Bihar Bandh, the opposition Mahagathbandhan took to the streets last week and staged a protest march to Raj Bhawan, demanding the withdrawal of the armed forces recruitment scheme.

Protests against the scheme first erupted in Bihar last week. They 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 were vandalised. Protesters blocked roads and railway tracks, disrupted train 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.

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