“If Agniveers don’t have a right to pension, I am ready to give up my pension rights too,” tweeted BJP MP Varun Gandhi on Friday morning, in the latest in a series of statements against the Agnipath defence recruitment and other moves by his party’s government.
The Agnipath scheme has elicited protests across the country as it provides for only four years of service, after which at least 75 per cent of the recruits (or ‘Agniveers’) will be let go without pensionary benefits.
अल्पावधि की सेवा करने वाले अग्निवीर पेंशन के हकदार नही हैं तो जनप्रतिनिधियों को यह ‘सहूलियत’ क्यूँ?
राष्ट्ररक्षकों को पेन्शन का अधिकार नही है तो मैं भी खुद की पेन्शन छोड़ने को तैयार हूँ।
क्या हम विधायक/सांसद अपनी पेन्शन छोड़ यह नही सुनिश्चित कर सकते कि अग्निवीरों को पेंशन मिले?
— Varun Gandhi (@varungandhi80) June 24, 2022
Varun Gandhi, a grandson of former prime minister Indira Gandhi and BJP’s member of Lok Sabha from Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh, tweeted in Hindi, saying, “If the Agniveers who serve for a short time are not eligible for pension, then why this ‘facility’ to public representatives… Can we, MLAs and MPs, not give up our pensions so that Agniveers get pension?”
The Lok Sabha website says every person who has served as a member of either House of Parliament for any period is entitled to pension of Rs 20,000/- per month. “Where any person has served the Parliament for a period exceeding five years, he/she shall be entitled for an additional pension at Rs. 1,500/- per month for every year in excess of five years,” it adds.
The Agniveers are entitled to a take-home starting salary of Rs 21,000 a month, while they will get around Rs 12 lakh once released after the four-year service.
The latest tweet by Varun Gandhi, whose mother Maneka Gandhi has served as a minister under PM Narendra Modi, comes soon after he took jabs at the central government on several issues.
On June 20, he hit out at his party’s MLA for calling ‘Agnipath’ protesters “jihadis” , saying that young people of the country “melt their bones” to serve in the army and that peaceful demonstration is everyone’s right.
Two days before that, he took a swipe at the Centre over the Agnipath scheme, saying it is not appropriate for a sensitive government to “strike first and think later”.
Before that, after Prime Minister Modi’s office announced 10 lakh recruitments in the government “in mission mode”, Varun Gandhi’s message of “thanks” was read by many as a thinly veiled dig. He had said that there are “more than 1 crore ‘sanctioned but vacant’ posts”. “To fulfill the promise of providing 2 crore jobs every year, steps will have to be taken at a faster pace,” his tweet read.