Agneepath plan for BJP may turn into a road of fire in Himachal elections
While the revival of the old pension scheme OPS is a widespread issue in the upcoming Himachal Pradesh state assembly elections, there is an uproar in at least 30 assembly constituencies in lower Himachal over the issue of Agneepath scheme, which will involve soldiers. Army for four years and retired at about 21 years of age.
Lower Himachal comprises 15 seats in Kangra district, 10 seats in Mandi and five seats each in Hamirpur and Una districts. Himachal tops all states in terms of number of soldiers per million in the Indian Army with 402. There is a local saying in lower Himachal Pradesh that goes – “A guard from every house on the outskirts”, which in short translates to, “Every house here sends a soldier to the border.”
Incidentally, these four districts are also strongholds of the BJP and comprise 35 assembly constituencies, which is almost half of the total number of assembly seats in the Himachal Legislative Assembly. The reason why soldiers from these four districts join the Indian Army is employment and dignity.
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,When it is hidden in the air, a storm comes.” (Silence in the air means storm is coming) says Shivpal Singh, former head of Dhaneta village of Kangra. A similar sentiment is expressed by Yudhveer Singh Sipaya, who also says, “Voters are silent and silence mostly means dissent.”
A candidate who wants to join Indian Army and is unwilling to take names says, “I was preparing since 2018. Then Covid hit and after that, Agneepath scheme ended all the attractiveness for the job. done.” Unwilling to share whether he would vote for the BJP or not, he says, “For the youth, the army was a major attraction. It’s not there anymore.”
In the last assembly elections, the BJP won a record 48 seats in the assembly for several reasons, the most important being the implementation of One Rank One Pension OROP, from lower Himachal, which has 1.30 lakh ex-servicemen and 40,000 serving army personnel. On November 7, 2015, there was a major reason to appease retired and serving members of the army and vote for the saffron party.
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However, now a turn has come with the youth saying that what the BJP gave to ex-servicemen through OROP is now taking back through the Agneepath scheme.
Kangra Major General (Retd) DS Rana said, “The BJP will definitely have to bear the brunt of the Agneepath scheme during the elections. Imagine, 46,000 Himachali youth had cleared the physical test and were waiting for selection pre-covid. After Covid, Center brought Agneepath scheme. They were feeling cheated. And otherwise also, Agneepath does not present a pleasant scenario for the army aspirants from Himachal. ,
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Punjab Singh Rana (retired) Subedar also agrees with General Rana. “I will clearly say that this scheme is not good for the country. In this part of Himachal, it will hamper the BJP’s prospects, at least among the youth. After all, with every candidate there is his family and extended family and at the end of the day they are your voters.”
Ashish Butail, sitting MLA from Palampur in Kangra, says, “There is a lot of resentment among the youth about the Agneepath scheme. Old Pension Scheme (OPS), Dearness and Agneepath Scheme are the three things that will ensure BJP’s downfall in these elections.