Cong says it will scrap Agnipath Scheme when it comes to power

New Delhi, Feb 26 (UNI) The Indian National Congress, while terming the Agnipath Scheme, announced on June 14, 2022 as an “unilateral decision of the government”, said that when it comes to power it will scrap the scheme and bring back the old recruitment process.

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday wrote to President Droupadi Murmu seeking her intervention in her capacity as the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces .

Kharge said that about two lakh youth from across the country who were selected for defence service before the introduction of the scheme were later denied joining, be allowed to join the services immediately.

He said, these young men and women had been selected for service with the Indian Armed Forces but were cruelly denied the opportunity to serve their country after the Agnipath scheme.

The party also held a press conference addressed by senior leaders including Sachin Pilot, Deepender Hooda and Pawan Khera demanding scrapping of the Agnipath scheme and immediate induction of the selected youth in the defence services. It announced that once Congress forms the government it will scrap the scheme as it is detrimental to the country’s defence interest and also the youth aspiring to join the defence forces.

“These young men and women had struggled against all odds to pass grueling mental and physical tests and a written exam. Until 31 May 2022, they believed that they had fulfilled their dreams and were awaiting only their joining letters. On that day, their dreams were shattered by the Government of India’s decision to end this recruitment process and replace it with the Agnipath Scheme”, Kharge wrote in his letter to the President Murmu.

Opposing the scheme, Kharge quoted former Chief of Army Staff General MM Naravane, who has written that the Army was “taken by surprise” by Agnipath and that “for the Navy and Air Force, it came like a bolt from the blue.”

The Congress president said, “the scheme is discriminatory among our jawans by creating parallel cadres of soldiers who are expected to work on similar tasks, but with very different emoluments, benefits and prospects”.

He pointed out, the majority of Agniveers will be released into an uncertain job market after four years of service, which some have argued could affect social stability.

Kharge underlined the injustice inflicted on the lakhs of youth whose dreams did not materialise despite the solemn promise made by the Government of India.

Addressing the press conference, Sachin Pilot said, the Agnipath scheme has not only compromised the recruitment process, but also the security of the country as well.

He questioned the government’s logic behind introducing the scheme, which he said was done purely for cost cutting. He said, the Congress was opposed to it right from the beginning and will keep on opposing it. The senior leader asked what will the Agniveers do after retiring at a young age and without any resources.

Referring to the government announcement that ten percent jobs in the central police services will be reserved for Agniveers, he said, when it (the government) had not completed the recruitment for reservation under ex-servicemen category how can it be expected to fill ten percent reservation for the Agniveers.

Notably, the Agnipath scheme was brought by the government to recruit soldiers below the rank of commissioned officers into the Army, Air Force and Navy for a period of four years and the recruited personnel will be called as ‘Agniveers’.

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