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regular-article-logo Sunday, 14 April 2024

Congress slams Modi government over 'flawed' Agnipath recruitment scheme

In a letter addressed to President Droupadi Murmu, Congress leader Mallikarajun Kharge expressed concern regarding the precarious futures of 'almost two lakh young men and women' whose destinies have been cast into uncertainty because of decisions taken by the government

Our Special Correspondent New Delhi Published 27.02.24, 06:05 AM
Mallikarjun Kharge in Ananthapuram, Andhra Pradesh, on Monday.

Mallikarjun Kharge in Ananthapuram, Andhra Pradesh, on Monday. PTI picture

The Congress on Monday accused the Modi government of prioritising cost-saving with the “flawed” Agnipath recruitment scheme for the armed forces while spending lavishly on publicity, vanity projects and international events.

Addressing a news conference, Congress leader Sachin Pilot said: “We were told that there was a need to lower the average age in the army to make it fighting fit. We were also told the army needed to be modernised. But we learn that the primary reason for the Agnipath scheme was to save some money. The government can spend Rs 4,100 crore on G-20 events, buy a plane for the Prime Minister for Rs 8,400 crore, spend Rs 6,500 on publicity and Rs 20,000 crore on Central Vista. But it doesn’t have money for the armed forces.”

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Reiterating its decision to scrap the Agnipath scheme, should it come to power, and revert to the old recruitment system, the Congress said the Modi government not only played havoc with youths’ careers but also weakened the armed forces, which would have serious implications on the nation’s territorial integrity.

In a letter addressed to President Droupadi Murmu, Congress leader Mallikarajun Kharge highlighted this matter. He expressed concern regarding the precarious futures of “almost two lakh young men and women” whose destinies have been cast into uncertainty “because of decisions taken by the Government of India”.

Recalling that around two lakh young men and women were selected for the armed forces between 2019 and 2022, Kharge said: “These young men and women had struggled against all odds to pass gruelling mental and physical tests and a written exam. Until May 31, 2022, they believed that they had fulfilled their dreams and were awaiting only their joining letters. Their dreams were shattered by the government’s decision to end this recruitment process and replace it with the Agnipath scheme.”

The scheme creates disparities among soldiers by establishing separate cadres with distinct compensation packages, benefits and career prospects despite being assigned similar duties, the Congress chief wrote. “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 said.

He, however, insisted that the main purpose of his letter was to highlight the injustice inflicted on the lakhs of youth whose dreams did not materialise despite the solemn promise made by the government. “The resulting frustration and hopelessness have even led to several reported deaths by suicide. Our youth cannot be allowed to suffer in this manner. I appeal to you to ensure that justice is done,” he said.

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