NEW DELHI: Upping the ante against the Narendra Modi government at the centre over the Agnipath scheme, the Congress on Friday lambasted the government saying that the reforms in the armed forces have to be transparent and demanded its roll back.
“The government’s Agnipath scheme is yet another ill-conceived disruption by the BJP government that will create fresh problems for India’s national security without solving its existing ones,” Congress leader Manvendra Singh said during an interaction with the media.
He said that the damage to the dreams of lakhs of aspirants has already sparked street protests in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Delhi and West Bengal.
Firing salvos at the government, the Congress leader said, “Has the government thought about unit cohesion in an environment in which Agniveers will be serving alongside troops, who enjoy secure pensions and more generous benefits and allowances, including three times as much leave entitlement as Agniveers? How will the government maintain regional balance in recruitment under the Agnipath scheme?”
He also asked what was the urgency of introducing such a disruptive scheme at this critical time.
Lamenting at the government, Singh, son of former defence minister and veteran BJP leader Jaswant Singh, said that some 50,000 young men and women have spent the last three years awaiting the results of physical, medical and written tests for recruitment by the Armed Forces, taking on debt to pay for their living costs.
“Has the Government applied its mind to their plight?” he questioned.
He also said that the government has announced that Agniveers will be given priority in hiring by the Coast Guard, Assam Rifles, Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), PSUs and private businesses. “However the government’s previous track record of hiring ex-servicemen is extremely poor and there is no clarity as to how this sorry situation will be improved,” he said.
“It has been almost seven months since the tragic death of Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat. The most important post in the Armed Forces has been lying vacant for six months. The new selection norms announced on 7 June 2022 increased the selection pool of serving and retired officers to over 200. Despite this they have been unable to find a replacement from an outstanding pool of officers,” he said.
He also demanded the rollback of the ‘Agnipath’ scheme as it is against the “national interest” as well as against the future of the youth. “The silence of the Prime Minister is an insult to the youth fighting for their due rights,” he added.
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