Nitish Kumar’s party messages stand on UCC, seeks review of Agnipath scheme | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Nitish Kumar’s party messages stand on UCC, seeks review of Agnipath scheme

Jun 06, 2024 05:52 PM IST

The Agnipath model was a major departure from the military’s decades-old recruitment system that was scrapped in June 2022

PATNA: The Janata Dal (United) on Thursday demanded a review of the Agnipath recruitment scheme for the military to remove its deficiencies but underlined that the party’s support to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre was unconditional and without pre-conditions”.

*Prime Minister Narendra Modi with key allies TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar and Janasena chief Pawan Kalyan during NDA meeting at PM's residence. (PTI VIA @ncbn)
*Prime Minister Narendra Modi with key allies TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar and Janasena chief Pawan Kalyan during NDA meeting at PM's residence. (PTI VIA @ncbn)

“A section of voters have been upset over the Agniveer scheme. Our party wants those shortcomings which have been questioned by the public to be discussed in detail and removed,” JD(U) leader and party’s principal spokesperson KC Tyagi said, a reference to the simmering anger among the youth over the controversial scheme for the short-term induction of soldiers.

The Agnipath scheme was a major departure from the military’s decades-old recruitment system that was scrapped in June 2022. Agnipath seeks to recruit soldiers for only four years, with a provision to retain 25% of them in regular service. Those recruited under the new scheme are called Agniveers.

In response to questions, Tyagi, who attended an informal meeting of the newly-elected MP meetings with chief minister Nitish Kumar in New Delhi, also outlined his party’s stand on the demand for a nationwide caste census, special status for Bihar and a uniform civil code.

He, however, did not speak on the backroom negotiations with the BJP for cabinet berths or its decade-old demand for a special status for Bihar.

“There is no pre-condition, there is unconditional support. But it is in our mind and heart that Bihar should be given special status. Bihar suffered after the state’s bifurcation (in 2000) and this can not be corrected without granting it special status,” Tyagi said.

With 12 seats, the JD (U) is the third largest constituent of the 15-member National Democratic Alliance that endorsed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a third term on Wednesday, next only to the BJP which got 240 seats and fell short of the majority mark by 32 seats and the N Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party.

According to reports, Nitish Kumar’s JD (U) wants two to three cabinet berths in PM Modi’s new cabinet. Party leaders declined to comment.

Bihar minister Ashok Choudhary said chief minister Nitish Kumar has convened a meeting with party MPs on Friday “where all issues will be discussed.”

Asked about the Uniform Civil Code, Tyagi said his party was not against it but wanted all communities to be taken on board. “We are not against Uniform Civil Code (UCC), the CM (Nitish Kumar) has written to Law Commission chief… there should be a discussion with all the stakeholders - be it various CMs, different political parties, different sects - and the issue should be resolved,” he said.

Asked about the national caste census, Tyagi said no political parties had spoken against the demand for a nationwide caste census. “Bihar has shown the path. PM too didn’t oppose it in all-party delegation. A caste-based census is the call of the hour. We will pursue it,” said Tyagi.

Jitan Ram Manjhi, the lone MP of his party Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular), said there was a need to discuss the Agniveer scheme but this shouldn’t be done in public. “It is a common issue. But we would like it to be discussed at an NDA meeting,” said Gaya MP and HAM-S convenor Jitan Ram Manjhi. His son and party president Santosh Kumar Suman denied having kept any conditions before the BJP.

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