Modi govt. should apologise to youth for the flawed Agniveer scheme: Kharge

Modi govt. should apologise to youth for the flawed Agniveer scheme: Kharge

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Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge. File

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge on Thursday reacted to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement that the Narendra Modi government was open to making changes in the Agniveer scheme for the armed forces, if required.

Agniveers are the new recruits under the Agnipath Scheme where 25% of the inductees would get permanent commission while others would retire after four years of service.

Calling the Agnipath Scheme “flawed and discriminatory”, several Opposition parties, including the Congress, have asked the government to scrap it and revert to the old system of recruitment.

In an interview to a news channel on Thursday, Mr. Singh did not talk of reverting to the old scheme but hinted that the government was open to making further changes.

“This shows that the Agniveer Scheme imposed on lakhs of patriotic youth by the Modi government is no longer working. First the Modi government destroyed the future of lakhs of our youth, now due to elections, it has talked about accepting the flaws in the Agniveer Scheme,” Mr. Kharge said in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

‘Will scrap the scheme’

The Congress chief said the government should first apologise to the youth and reiterated that if his party came to power, it would scrap the scheme. He added the scheme had “weakened” national security as “no youth wants to join the Army for only four years”.

Mr. Kharge said his party, through its “Jai Jawan” campaign, highlighted the plight of about 1.5 lakh young men and who were selected for the armed forces in a regular recruitment drive between 2019 and 2022 after passing a rigorous selection process. However, their induction could not take place as the Modi government suddenly announced the Agnipath Scheme for the armed forces.

“Former Army Chief [retired] General M.M. Naravane ji recently said that 75% people were to be taken and 25% people were to be released in the ‘Agniveer Yojana’. But the Modi government did the opposite, and forcibly imposed this scheme on the three armed forces,” Mr. Kharge said.

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