Congress launches 'Jay Jawan' campaign against Agnipath scheme

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi launched the campaign on the eighteenth day of the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in Bihar

Rahul Gandhi with Agniveer aspirants in Katihar, Bihar (photo: @INCIndia/X)
Rahul Gandhi with Agniveer aspirants in Katihar, Bihar (photo: @INCIndia/X)
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PTI

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday launched the 'Jay Jawan' campaign to provide "justice" to 1.5 lakh youth in the country who were selected for defence services but "not allowed" to join after the launch of the Agnipath scheme to recruit Agniveers.

Gandhi launched the campaign on the eighteenth day of the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in Bihar, and promised these youth that he would raise the issue of "injustice" with them at every forum.

Due to the implementation of the Agniveer scheme, around 1.5 lakh candidates selected for the Indian Army, Air Force and Navy between 2019 and 2022 were allegedly denied joining.

"Our Jay Jawan campaign is dedicated to those youth who have faced this injustice," Gandhi said, adding that "it is the fight for nyay (justice) against this anyay (injustice)".

There will be three phases of 'Jay Jawan' campaign — mass contact (1-28 February), satyagraha (5-10 March) and padyatra (17-20 March).

Addressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters in Delhi, party media and publicity department head Pawan Khera, chairman of the ex-servicemen cell Col Rohit Chaudhry (retd), Indian Youth Congress president Srinivas B.V. and NSUI president Varun Chaudhary said the Agnipath scheme was not only against the country's interests, but also playing with the aspirations of lakhs of youths.

Khera asked why the defence experts' opinion was not sought before launching the scheme. He said the country cannot afford "an army on rent" or contractual soldiers.

Pointing out that for the Agniveers, there is neither a job guarantee, nor any guarantee in case they are martyred unlike regular soldiers, Khera disclosed that 60 lakh youth had taken various tests for selection, of whom 1.5 lakh had been selected. He claimed that the government had charged a total of Rs 100 crore as examination fee for these selections.

Chaudhary warned that the Agniveer scheme is like "playing with fire" and putting the country’s security at stake. He said after the introduction of the scheme, the defence forces' strength had come down by three lakh, and claimed that in another 10 years, the total strength would be reduced to just 10 lakh.

Chaudhary equated the scheme with private armies and alleged that the prime minister might hand over this job to his capitalist friends who are already in the security services.

Giving an example of the ‘Wagner Army’ of Russia, he said private armies don’t win any wars. Chaudhary said Russia has not been able to defeat Ukraine which, he claimed, has a regular army while Russia is fighting through a "private army".


Later in a post in Hindi on X, Gandhi said that leaving 1.5 lakh youth already selected in the armed forces helpless in the name of a "temporary" recruitment scheme Agniveer is a "grave injustice" to them. “Today in Katihar, there was a discussion with some enthusiastic youth who had done penance for years to join the army,” he said.

The Agniveer scheme is a "betrayal" not only of the patriotic youth but also the sacred sentiments of the country attached to the Indian military, Gandhi said.

“We have started the Voice of Justice - JAY JAWAN campaign against the injustice being done to these youth. You too can become a part of this ongoing campaign for justice for these patriotic youth by visiting jayjawan.in or by giving a missed call on 9999812024,” he wrote.

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