Stop playing with future of youths, withdraw Agnipath scheme: Congress to govt

The Congress on Sunday said the Modi government is playing with the future of the youth by bringing in the new military recruitment plan and it must withdraw this "Tughlaqi" decision

Aspirants protesting against the short-term Army recruitment Agnipath scheme
Aspirants protesting against the short-term Army recruitment Agnipath scheme
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PTI

Stepping up its attack on the government over the Agnipath scheme, the Congress on Sunday said the Modi government is playing with the future of the youth by bringing in the new military recruitment plan and it must withdraw this "Tughlaqi" decision.

Twenty senior Congress leaders and spokespersons addressed press conferences titled 'Agnipath ki Baat: Yuwaon se Vishwasghaat' in as many cities and demanded the withdrawal of the scheme, citing risk to national security and discontent among the youth.

The Congress said it will also hold a nationwide protest in every assembly constituency against this "anti-youth and anti-national" scheme "bulldozed through without discussion".

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Congress spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil said the Congress is standing with the youth and this "Tughlaqi decision" should be withdrawn immediately.

"At a time when China has entered our borders... this (Agnipath scheme) is like playing with national security," Gohil said.

"I demand from the prime minister that Agnipath be withdrawn and all those ministers or BJP spokespersons who say that the Agnipath scheme is good, they should get their sons and daughters recruited under the Agnipath scheme," he said.

Gohil also demanded an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya's remarks apparently suggesting that he will give priority to 'Agniveers' for security jobs at his party office.

Addressing a press conference at the PCC headquarters in Jaipur, Congress Rajya Sabha MP from Haryana Deepender Singh Hooda also attacked the Centre over the Agnipath and called the government a "copycat" for importing ideas from foreign nations to draft policies.

"The government has adopted the attitude of a 'Nakalchi Bandar (copycat)' but this is Hindustan. Sometimes it gives the example of America in the context of agriculture laws and at other times talks about Israel in reference to military service," he said.

The scheme seeks to recruit in the armed forces youths in the age bracket of 17-and-half to 21 years for only four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years. For 2022, the upper age limit has been extended to 23 years.

Several parts of the country witnessed protests after the announcement of the Agnipath scheme on June 14.

Speaking with reporters in Patna, Congress leader Kanhaiya Kumar too demanded an immediate rollback of the Agnipath scheme.

He said Congress workers will organise protest marches against the Agnipath scheme in all 243 assembly constituencies in Bihar on Monday.

"The BJP-led NDA government at the Centre is not serious about addressing the unemployment problem in the country. By bringing in the Agnipath scheme, it has made jobs contractual in defence sector. But the Union government must not play with national security. We demand an immediate rollback of the scheme," Kumar told reporters.

The new scheme comes at a time when there has almost been no recruitment in the armed forces for several years, he said.

"Agnipath scheme is simply a move towards the contractualisation of defence jobs. Agniveers won't get employment or pension after completing their service duration of four years. Students and job aspirants will definitely protest against such schemes that will thrust the youth of the country into the fire. But Union ministers are trying to sell the scheme like salesmen," he said.

Kumar alleged that the Centre does not understand the pain or frustration of jobless youngsters.

In Jammu, All India Congress Committee (AICC) member Capt Ajay Yadav (retd) hit out at the BJP-led government at the Centre for its ill-conceived Agnipath scheme and said it is not only anti-youth but also against the interests of the country.

Yadav, who is also chairman of the OBC department in the AICC, claimed that there are 62 lakh vacancies in the country in the government sector which needs to be filled.

Lashing out at the government for using army officers to defend its policy, he said the army was never politicised in the past seven decades.

Yadav, a former Haryana minister, said he comes from the Rewari area where the prime minister had promised one rank one pension (OROP) but instead he has brought a no rank no pension scheme.

Thousands of youths who had qualified preliminary tests and were preparing for the final selection for the past three years have been left in lurch, he said.

The Congress leader said the youth of the country are frustrated and agitated over the scheme.

He pointed out that only 2.5 percent of the ex-servicemen have been getting jobs in the private sector post-retirement so the assertion that these youths post disengagement would get employment elsewhere is devoid of any truth.

The scheme was never brought and discussed in Parliament to study its various aspects and it is against the democratic system in the country, Yadav said.

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