Will scrap ‘Agnipath’ scheme if voted to power, says Congress

Kharge writes to Prez Murmu, highlighting "gross injustice" to youngsters

Congress leaders Sachin Pilot, Pawan Khera and Deepender Singh Hooda during a press conference, at AICC headquarters, in New Delhi | PTI Congress leaders Sachin Pilot, Pawan Khera and Deepender Singh Hooda during a press conference, at AICC headquarters, in New Delhi | PTI

The Congress said on Monday it would scrap the ‘Agnipath’ military recruitment scheme if voted to power at the Centre, alleging that the scheme would not benefit anybody except saving some money for the government.

Addressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters in Delhi, Congress general secretary Sachin Pilot said if some changes were to be introduced to modernise the armed forces, that was very much possible in the current setup.

“We in the Congress 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.

"If this government can spend Rs 4,100 crore on G-20, Rs 8,400 crore for the prime minister's airplane, Rs 20,000 crore for the Central Vista Project, and Rs 6,500 crore every year for government advertisements, then I believe that we should not play with our entire recruitment process just to save money; this is for the future, for our security. This can pose a challenge somewhere to the integrity and security of India," he further said.

Earlier in the day, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge wrote a letter to President Droupadi Murmu, highlighting the “gross injustice” meted out to almost two lakh young men and women due to the scrapping of regular recruitment process for the armed forces.

“These young men and women had struggled against all odds to pass gruelling 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 said.

"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.

The Congress leader further alleged that the scheme is discriminatory as it creates parallel cadres of soldiers who are expected to work on similar tasks, but with very different emoluments, benefits and prospects. 

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, he said.

Tagging Kharge's letter, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi wrote on X: "We are with the military candidates, who are full of patriotism and bravery, in the fight for justice."

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said, with the spirit of patriotism and service in mind, lakhs of youngsters across the country work hard day and night.


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