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

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge wrote to President Droupadi Murmu, who is the supreme commander of the armed forces, and said that the Agnipath scheme does "gross injustice" to the youths of the country and called it "discriminatory" among jawans.

Agnipath scheme was launched in 2022. (Image: PTI)Agnipath scheme was launched in 2022. (Image: PTI)

Press Trust of India | February 26, 2024 | 09:51 PM IST

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 demanded that those who had cleared the old recruitment process but were not inducted be immediately given jobs. The opposition party asserted that it would revert to the old recruitment system if voted to power at the Centre. Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge wrote to President Droupadi Murmu, 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 armed forces. "There are many well-known issues with the Agnipath scheme. Former Chief of Army Staff General M M Naravane 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'," he said.

"Lakhs of posts are vacant, crores of youth are unemployed this is Modi's guarantee," she added. 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.

Pilot said India has one of the finest fighting forces in the world and its defence forces are second to none. "But their valour, their strength and their dedication to the nation should be regarded and respected for future generations and we all feel that by compromising on the process of recruitment of the armed forces, it may not augur well for our future," he said. Hooda said several military recruitment processes were completed during and before the outbreak of COVID-19 and only joining was left. But after the introduction of the "Agnipath" scheme, these youngsters selected by the government were not given joining letters.

"When we asked what will the Agniveers do after four years of service, BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya had said those youngsters will be given the job of a watchman in the BJP office. I want to tell the BJP that the youngsters of the country join the Army with a sense of patriotism and not with a sense of becoming a watchman outside the BJP office," Hooda said. Hooda accused the BJP of playing politics over the defence forces of the country. In his letter to the president, Kharge said, "Our youth cannot be allowed to suffer in this manner. I appeal to you to ensure that justice is done." The "Agnipath" 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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