By Vishal Gulati
Chandigarh, June 29 (IANS): There is strong resentment in Himachal Pradesh, linked to the ballot, against the Centre’s Agnipath scheme for four-year contract recruitment in defense recruitment.
The BJP government led by Jai Ram Thakur is riddled with scams, ranging from recruiting police officers to issuing fake diplomas at the cost of Rs 4 lakh to Rs 10 lakh.
The main opposition Congress is in “battle gear” to take on the ruling government head-on in assembly elections, likely in November.
These were the views of two-time Congress legislator Rajinder Rana, who for years learned political lessons from his former mentor and two-time BJP chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, whom he “taught” the lesson to. beating him in the assembly of 2017. elections.
He defeated the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate, Dhumal, by 1,919 votes in Sujanpur, the seat to which the latter was invited to run.
In an interview with IANS here on Wednesday, Rana, who is one of the party’s state labor chairpersons, said there was strong resentment among the youth and people of Himachal Pradesh, who felt proud to serve the nation by donning military attire, against contract recruitment into the armed forces.
“In my constituency, one in three houses has a family member in the armed forces. In some houses there are two or three family members serving the nation,” Rana, a well-known social worker in the region who was once Dhumal’s Chief Electoral Officer and knows her family well, IANS said.
He said people in Himalayan state, where there are 16 lakh unemployed, want to serve the nation due to lack of job opportunities in the state. “They are also robust to serve the armed forces.”
“The Agnipath scheme is a fraud with the people of the state. There is strong dissent even among the parents of aspiring soldiers because you are going to employ a soldier at the age of 17-18 when he does not hasn’t even finished school. At the age of 21-22, 75% of them will be sent home without any social security incentives, including retirement. We are protesting against this program and it will be our main election issue,” said Rana, a realtor-turned-politician who won Sujanpur. seat in Hamirpur district for the first time in the 2012 assembly polls as an independent candidate with a margin of 14,116 votes, IANS said.
The hill state has around 1.20 lakh serving defense personnel and an almost equal number of ex-servicemen largely settled in Una, Kangra, Hamirpur, Bilaspur and Mandi districts.
A large number of protesters attempted to reach the town of Dharamsala in Kangra district where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was due to hold a tour on June 16, but were stopped by police several kilometers before the venue.
Congress is also considering bolstering its vote bank against government workers’ resentment of the new pension plan.
Rana said that after the reintroduction of the old pension scheme in Congress-governed Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the state Congress, if it returns to the helm, will bring the old pension scheme.
The old scheme was abolished by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee in December 2003. The National Pension Scheme came into effect on 1 April 2004.
About a million workers staged a protest in Shimla earlier this year demanding the scrapping of the new pension scheme. They say when it comes to legislators’ financial benefits, the government makes a quick decision, but when it comes to former employee pension benefits, the government cites funding crunch.
There are about 2.25 state government employees, of which about 30,000 are contract, part-time, daily wage and para. The largest number of employees are employed in the departments of education, public works, irrigation and public health, police and health.
Rana, who quit the assembly seat and unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in Hamirpur as a Congress candidate, said the leaked constable recruitment exam document is one of the biggest scams in the country.
The scam is currently being investigated by the CBI and is likely to embarrass the ruling BJP government ahead of the Assembly elections.
So did the multi-million fake degree scams at Manav Bharti University in Solan.
“Police records indicate that 43,000 fake diplomas were sold by the university across the country. In reality, the number of fake diplomas could be 4 to 10 lakh,” said the congressional lawmaker, who makes allegiance to party veteran and six-time chief minister. Virbhadra Singh.
“The fake diploma scam could amount to over Rs 20,000 crore,” he added.
The fake degree scam was uncovered in February 2019, a year after the University Grants Commission (UGC) received an anonymous complaint regarding the alleged sale of more than 5 lakh of degrees by two private universities in Himachal, l Manav Bharti University of Solan and APG of Shimla. .
Congress will soon announce a toll-free number for public comment on platforms to include in its election manifesto.
“Congress is fully united to take the helm of the ruling BJP. A strong anti-incumbency wave against the state ruling BJP – evident from the loss of three seats in the Assembly and one parliamentary seat in the October 2021 partial polls – will be visible in the assembly polls as well.
“Furthermore, the state has experienced a two-party system. A handful of Congress and BJP rebels have emerged from time to time, but after failing to mark their presence on the broader political landscape,” Rana said, adding that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is nowhere pictured in the state.