Modi govt 'playing with' national security, youth's future by bringing in Agnipath scheme: Congress

"We will not allow two types of martyrs to be created - As soon as an INDIA bloc government is formed, we will first end the Agniveer yojana," Gandhi said.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi Photo | PTI

NEW DELHI: The Congress on Monday accused the Modi government of "playing with" national security and the future of the youth by bringing in the Agnipath scheme, and asserted that the military recruitment programme would be scrapped when an INDIA bloc government is formed at the Centre.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the Agnipath scheme is an insult to the patriotism of the country's armed forces and the youth.

"Today in Bihar, during a public meeting, when discussion took place with Agniveer Vikas Kumar, the pain of that brave youth flowed out of his eyes. Narendra Modi's Agniveer scheme is an insult to the patriotism of the country's army and youth," he said in a post on X.

"We will not allow two types of martyrs to be created - As soon as an INDIA bloc government is formed, we will first end the Agniveer yojana," Gandhi said.

Addressing a rally in Bihar, Gandhi on Monday claimed that the INDIA bloc, if voted to power, would scrap the Agnipath scheme of recruitment in the defence services and deposit Rs 8,500 in every woman's account each month.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said the Agnipath scheme is the contribution of the "outgoing prime minister".

"This is playing with national security and the future of the youth. Before Agnipath, about 75,000 youth were recruited (annually) into the armed forces and now that has been reduced by one-fourth," Ramesh said in a video statement posted on X.

He said that under the Agnipath scheme, training is given to the youth for six months and they are told to go and take on China and Pakistan at the borders.

Ramesh recalled Prime Minister Modi's June 2020 statement, which the Congress describes as a "clean chit of China", and claimed that it had reduced India's negotiating power.

"We should remember that the three chiefs of the army, navy and air force had opposed Agnipath. Former army chief (General Manoj Mukund) Naravane has talked about this in his book. The outgoing PM will have to answer after June 4 as to why Agnipath was brought in and our national security played with," he said.

In a post in Hindi along with his video statement, the Congress leader said, "Outgoing Prime Minister Narendra Modi has brought this scheme without any discussion. Even the armed forces had not given consent for this. This policy has compromised our capabilities against China."

Ramesh said the Congress would scrap the policy when it comes to power.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has stoutly defended the Agnipath scheme, saying there cannot be a more attractive scheme for the youth as it offers guarantee of a full-term job for 'agniveers' who retire following a four-year tenure in the armed forces.

The government rolled out the Agnipath recruitment scheme in June 2022 for short-term induction of personnel with an aim to bring down the age profile of the three services.

It provides for recruiting youngsters 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.

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