Panaji: Citing Chanakya’s advice to emperor Chandragupta Maurya that the nation will not survive if farmers and soldiers have to seek their rights, Congress functionary Capt Viriato Fernandes on Wednesday demanded that the ‘Agnipath’ scheme should be scrapped as it is not fit for defence.
Fernandes, a former Captain in the Indian Navy, on Wednesday addressed a press conference here, and slammed the BJP over the Agnipath scheme saying that it will ‘use and throw’ youths after the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
“(Prime Minister) Narendra Modi has failed to keep his word of bringing black money back and depositing 15 lakhs in bank accounts of public. This is another jumla by the BJP, which will push youths in the dark as they will not get social security after completing four years as ‘Agniveer’ in defence,” he said.
“Central government made farmers suffer. They brought laws against farmers to benefit crony capitalists. Now their buri nazar (evil eye) is on defence with an ill-conceived policy called Agnipath and they are justifying saying it is introduced as there is severe shortage of trained manpower in three services. I want to ask Modi, if they were facing shortage, then why in the last two years recruitment was stopped,” Fernandes questioned.
He said that there was an unwritten rule or a policy followed by various governments that never ever interfered with the policies of armed forces.
“How to fight? How to plan? What are the equipment? Whatever is required, technology, (earlier) defence used to plan and decide and then tell the government (to execute). But today, the situation has become the opposite,” Fernandes said.
He demanded that the Agnipath policy be scrapped and a free hand given to the armed forces for their requirements. “Leave anything to do with defence to the armed forces. They know best,” he said.
He said that after completing four years training as Agniveer, the youths will not have proper education or training to get ahead in life.
“No gratuity and no pension, means no social security to these Agniveers. When they complete 4 years they will be without a job and education and no proper training. What does he do (after that)?,” Fernandes asked.
“Today arms, ammunition and equipment are with advanced technology, without education and proper training how will they man it?,” he questioned.
Fernandes said that BJP MPs and MLAs should tell how many of their children are serving in the defence forces.
“I want to appeal to youths: don’t indulge in violence, and be peaceful. Your concern will be placed before the President of India,” he said.