Rahul Gandhi slams Centre over 'Agnipath', claims Army wants to scrap it

Agniveer with six-month training won't last against Chinese soldiers, says Congress leader

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi at a public meeting in Seoni district on 8 April (photo: PTI)
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi at a public meeting in Seoni district on 8 April (photo: PTI)


Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday, 8 April, slammed the BJP government at the Centre over the Agnipath scheme, saying an Agniveer recruit who has undergone training for just six months will become a martyr in combat against a Chinese soldier, who is trained for five years.

Addressing an election rally in Madhya Pradesh's Shahdol, Gandhi claimed the "Agniveer Yojana" was conceptualised by the prime minister but the Army doesn't want this scheme.

After coming to power, the Congress will abolish this short-term recruitment scheme for inducting soldiers, he said.

"Earlier, poor people used to join the sena (read army). They (soldiers) used to get a pension and martyr status. The facility of the canteen was also available to them. Now they (Centre) say we are producing Agniveers by recruiting say four youths (under the scheme) and training them for six months," the Congress MP said.

He wondered how an Agniveer could face a trained Chinese soldier.

"Chinese soldiers will come after undergoing (combat) training for five years. You can understand the result. Our son (Agniveer) will be martyred. Then we will be told that he won't get the status of martyr because he is Agniveer. You will neither get the canteen facility nor a pension.

"But the person he (Agniveer) will fight will say that 'brother, you don't get a pension, you don't get canteen facility, you will not get the status of martyr either. But I am getting a canteen facility and will also get a pension. I will also get the martyr status'," Gandhi said.

He said if Congress comes to power, it will scrap the Agniveer scheme.

In June 2022, the government rolled out the Agnipath recruitment scheme for short-term induction of personnel to bring down the age profile of the three services.

It provides for recruiting youths between the age bracket of 17-and-half years and 21 for four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years.

The Congress in its manifesto "Nyay Patra" has promised to abolish the Agnipath/Agniveer scheme.

Gandhi also claimed the army was not in favour of this scheme.

"If you ask the Army whether they want Agniveer (scheme), they will say they don't want this scheme. This scheme is causing loss to us as well as the country. The Agniveer Yojana was conceptualised by the prime minister and a decision was taken by the PMO. The Army is against this scheme," he claimed.

Had the sena wanted the Agnipath scheme, I would have never said from the stage that we would abolish it.

"The sena wants Agniveer Yojana to be cancelled and we are going to scrap it," he added.

Gandhi also listed various promises mentioned in the Congress manifesto for women, youths, farmers and the poor.

He reiterated the Congress' commitment to the caste-based census which he said would be a "social X-ray".

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