Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge
Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge File Photo | PTI

Will scrap 'Agnipath', revert to old recruitment scheme if Congress voted to power: Kharge

The future of nearly 2 lakh young men and women has become uncertain due to the ending of the regular recruitment process in the armed forces, Kharge said in his letter to the President.

NEW DELHI: Stepping up its attack on the Union government over the "Agnipath" military recruitment scheme, the Congress alleged on Monday that "gross injustice" was done to youngsters and asserted that it would revert to the old recruitment scheme if voted to power at the Centre.

Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge wrote to President Droupadi Murmu on Monday, highlighting the "gross injustice" done to the youngsters seeking regular employment in the armed forces due to the "Agnipath" scheme, and urged her to ensure justice for them.

The future of nearly two lakh young men and women has become uncertain due to the scrapping of the regular recruitment process in the armed forces, Kharge said in his letter to the president, who is the supreme commander of the Indian armed forces.

Addressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters here, Congress general secretary Sachin Pilot said there was no demand for such a scheme.

"In the long term, this scheme will not benefit anybody except saving some money for the government of India. We in the Congress party feel that we should go back to the old recruitment system," Pilot said.

If some changes are to be introduced to modernise the armed forces, that is very much possible in the current setup, but to completely eradicate the old system is not right, he added.

"It is closing avenues of employment. I think it has been done in an ad-hoc fashion, without much thought to the future prospects of how the Army would function. We in the Congress party believe that the Agnipath programme is not a positive development and we will certainly go back to the old recruitment system when people vote us back," Pilot said.

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Congress leader Deepender Hooda also lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre and wondered who had called for such a scheme.

Hooda said the Congress demands a rollback of the scheme and a return to the old recruitment process.

In June 2022, the government rolled out the "Agnipath" recruitment scheme for short-term induction of personnel into the armed forces, with an aim to bring down the age profile of the three services.

The scheme provides for recruiting youngsters in the age bracket of 17 years and a half to 21 years for a four-year period, with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years.

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