Agnipath scheme will destroy armed forces: Priyanka Gandhi
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Sunday contested the impression that the Agnipath scheme had been introduced without application of mind, arguing that the Narendra Modi government did everything with the sole objective of staying in power without bothering whether established systems were getting destroyed in the process.
Speaking at a Congress dharna at Jantar Mantar in protest against the Agnipath short-term recruitment scheme, Priyanka said: “I earnestly request the youth aspiring to get into the armed forces, who are true patriots, to delve deeper and try to understand the situation. Analyse what is happening around you, how the government is working, what this country is grappling with.”
She added: “Farmers saw through the plot. They understood that the government was not working in their interest. They understood that the fruits of their labour were being passed on to someone else. They fought and forced the government to withdraw the farm laws. Youths should also understand this government is not working for them, not for the poor, the women or the oppressed.”
Asking the agitated youth not to indulge in violence, the Congress leader said: “This government is working for the big industrialists. All these schemes thrust upon the nation without consulting the stakeholders are part of a well-thought-out strategy. These are conscious decisions. It is wrong to presume these schemes come by mistake, without a thoughtful examination. The only motive of this government is to stay in power. There is no other goal and for this they can do anything. Why are they selling the nation’s assets — the public sector units — to crony capitalists? To fulfil the same objective.”
Priyanka said jobs available in these PSUs had almost vanished, and explained how other policies like demonetisation had served the same purpose.
“The Agnipath scheme will destroy the armed forces as well as the aspirations and future of the youth. But we feel your pain. The entire country stands by you. I request the youth to recognise the intention of the government. Your objective should be to uproot this government through peaceful campaigns. Elect a government which will work for you, protect your interest,” she said.
The Congress doesn’t want the agitated youth to see this setback as an episodic aberration and expects them to recognise the basic flaw in the RSS-BJP politics.
Other Congress leaders who spoke at the protest meet also wondered what was the need to introduce such a scheme at a time when unemployment was at its peak.
Senior leader Digvijaya Singh said: “The Modi model of governance involves introducing the contract system in every sphere. In Gujarat, policemen are recruited on contract. Even joint secretaries in the government of India are now being appointed on contract.”
Many other speakers explained how Agnipath was a great injustice to the youth and demanded a return to normal recruitments, which haven’t happened for over two years.
Ajay Maken pointed out that total vacancies in central and state governments were more than 62 lakh but Modi had chosen not to fill them. Sachin Pilot wondered how a government that spent Rs 8,000 crore for a fancy plane and Rs 20,000 crore on Central Vista could choose to play with the armed forces and the youth’s future to curtail the pension bill.
Rahul Gandhi, who was not present at the protest, responded to the statements by some BJP ministers about the post-retirement prospects of Agniveers, the Agnipath recruits.
He tweeted: “You cannot expect those who didn’t hoist the Tricolour for 52 years after Independence to honour soldiers. The youth want to
protect the country by joining the armed forces, not to protect the BJP offices. The Prime Minister’s silence is a stamp of approval on this insult.”
BJP veteran Kailash Vijayvargiya has declared he would love to hire Agniveers as security guards at BJP offices.
Union minister for culture and tourism G. Kishan Reddy had said at a media conference on Saturday that the skills acquired by the Agniveers could be handy in seeking the jobs of driver, barbers, washermen and electricians.