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regular-article-logo Sunday, 23 June 2024

With people of Himachal opposing Agnipath, will PM Modi commit to scrapping it: Congress

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh posed several questions to the prime minister ahead of his rallies in Himachal Pradesh

PTI New Delhi Published 24.05.24, 11:41 AM
Narendra Modi and Jairam Ramesh (inset)

Narendra Modi and Jairam Ramesh (inset) File

The Congress on Friday said the people of Himachal Pradesh have repeatedly voiced their opposition to the Agnipath scheme and asked if Prime Minister Narendra Modi will commit to scrapping the "ill-conceived" military recruitment programme.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh posed several questions to the prime minister ahead of his rallies in Himachal Pradesh.

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"How much did the attempt to topple the state government cost the BJP? Will the outgoing prime minister commit to scrapping the Agnipath scheme? Why has the Modi sarkar not delivered on railway projects? Why did the outgoing prime minister not declare the July 2023 floods a national calamity?" the Congress general secretary asked.

He also alleged that the BJP's blatant disregard for democratic values has been on full display in Himachal Pradesh.

The six MLAs who were disqualified from the assembly for selling out to the BJP during the Rajya Sabha elections have shamelessly been named as candidates for the seats they vacated, he said.

"Ten years into their rule, it has become clear that for the BJP, dirty politics is not the exception -- it is the rule. From Goa to Sikkim, Maharashtra to Karnataka, and now Himachal Pradesh -- no state is safe from their manipulations," Ramesh said.

He alleged that the BJP has brazenly toppled or attempted to topple governments in every corner of the country using its "ill-gotten Electoral Bonds gains".

Ramesh also asked how much the attempt to topple the Himachal Pradesh government cost.

"How much did each MLA get for defecting? The outgoing prime minister has proudly called India the 'Mother of Democracy'. Does he really think that Mother India would stand for his duplicity and deception?" Ramesh asked.

He said the people of Himachal Pradesh have repeatedly voiced their opposition to the Modi government's "ill-conceived" Agnipath scheme.

"Even if we ignore the unrealistic expectation of preparing young soldiers for battle within six months, how can we ignore the scheme's impact on their long-term job prospects? Where will young recruits go after spending four years of their prime in the army?" Ramesh asked.

He said the families have also raised issues about the lack of post-service benefits and provisions for the welfare of dependents in case of casualties during the four-year term of service.

"Most of the army jawan's financial and welfare benefits have been taken away under the scheme. Why has the Modi sarkar insisted on pushing this scheme through despite widespread protests?" he asked.

The Congress has promised to abolish the Agnipath programme and resume normal recruitment to the Armed Forces, Ramesh pointed out.

He also asked if the "outgoing prime minister" has any plans to reconsider his government's "ill-conceived scheme".

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.

Ramesh further said two railway lines sanctioned during the first United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government are yet to be completed in Himachal Pradesh.

"The Bhanupali-Bilapsur-Beri line from Punjab to Himachal Pradesh was sanctioned in 2008-09 and the Chandigarh-Baddi Line to connect the state's industrial hub to Chandigarh was sanctioned in 2007-08. More than 15 years later, both projects are still a work in progress," he said.

Railway projects like these are crucial because they open up new educational and employment opportunities for locals, he said.

"Why has the Modi sarkar been unable to complete these projects even after 10 years in power?" Ramesh asked.

He also said that in July 2023, Himachal Pradesh was devastated by massive floods with at least 330 people losing their lives and the state suffering damage amounting to at least Rs 10,000 crore.

"Despite repeated requests from the chief minister, the Modi sarkar refused to declare it a national calamity, and provide adequate central funds for relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction. What vendetta does the outgoing prime minister have against the people of Himachal? Is it entirely because of their decision to vote for the Congress?" Ramesh asked and urged the prime minister to break his "silence" on these issues.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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