Congress seeks apology from Vijayvargiya after he proposes to hire Agniveers for security at BJP office
"If I have to recruit security (personnel) here in this BJP office, I will give priority to Agniveer," BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said
BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya on Sunday sought to defend the Centre's Agnipath scheme for military recruitment, which is facing stiff opposition from various quarters, saying if he has to appoint security personnel as his party office, he would give priority to those who have served as Agniveers.
His remark soon kicked up a row, with some prominent political leaders, including his party colleague MP Varun Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, besides several netizens slamming him for it.
The Madhya Pradesh Congress demanded an apology from the BJP for "insulting" the defence forces.
The Centre on Tuesday announced the Agnipath scheme for four-year contractual military recruitment that has sparked protests in many parts of the country and is being questioned by many parties. The soldiers to be recruited under this plan will be called Agniveers.
Addressing a press conference at the BJP office here, Vijayvargiya, while describing the benefits of the scheme, said the youth would develop qualities like discipline and obedience, which is part of army's training.
"If I have to recruit security (personnel) here in this BJP office, I will give priority to Agniveer," he said.
A video of his statement went viral on social media platforms.
K.K. Mishra, chairman of the media department of Madhya Pradesh Congress, also criticised Vijayvargiya for the statement.
"Agniveers, who will be recruited (in the armed forces) only for four years, will be later appointed as security guards at the BJP office. This is a big insult of the unemployed youth and the valour of the armed forces. BJP should apologise," he said in a tweet.
Several other social media users also slammed the senior BJP leader for his statement.
Tagging the video in his tweet, Varun Gandhi questioned Vijayvargiya and said army is a medium to serve 'Maa Bharti' (mother India).
"Our great army's heroic tales cannot be expressed with mere words and its valour echoes in the entire world," Gandhi said, accusing the BJP national general secretary of offering the job of a "chowkidar" (watchman) to soldiers after retirement.
"Indian Army is a means to serve mother India, not merely a job," Varun Gandhi said.
Under fire for the statement, Vijayvargiya later said what he meant was that the excellence of Agniveers will be utilised in whichever field they choose after completing service in the defence forces. He also accused the "toolkit gang" of twisting his remark.
(With PTI inputs)