Congress demands to convene a meeting of Paarl panel to discuss Agneepath

New Delhi: The Congress on Friday demanded the withdrawal of the Agneepath scheme, while the BJP allied itself to defend the plan for recruitment to the defense services.

Violent protests have erupted against it, senior Rajya Sabha MP and Congress General Secretary (Organisation) KC Venugopal demanded an urgent meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defense to discuss the controversial ‘Agneepath’ military recruitment scheme.

In a letter to Standing Committee Chairman Jual Oram, the Congress MP also urged that key stakeholders and defense experts be invited to take their views on the programme.

Congress Rajya Sabha MP Deepinder Singh Hooda said the scheme should be withdrawn immediately and a relaxation of three years should be announced for youths who do not join the armed forces due to delay in recruitment.

Party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi also attacked the government over the Agneepath scheme, saying the BJP government needed to amend the rules under the scheme, indicating soon after its announcement that it was “hasty” imposed on the youth. and demanded its immediate withdrawal.

Urging the protesters to be patient and not resort to violence, Hooda asked the government to apologize to the youth of the country for coming out with a new short-term recruitment scheme for the armed forces.

“The government should immediately withdraw the Agneepath scheme. It is neither in favor of national security nor in favor of national interest and certainly not in favor of the youth of the country,” he told reporters at a press conference.

Recalling the deaths of over 700 farmers during the year-long farmers’ agitation, Hooda flagged the alleged suicide of a Haryana youth for missing out on his chance to join the Army.

Demanding immediate withdrawal of the Agneepath scheme, he said, “Don’t make the mistake that you (government) did during the farmers’ agitation, in which over 700 farmers died.”

Hooda said the Congress stood with the candidates seeking jobs in the defense services and would fight for their rights and demands.

The party also demanded that the government convene a special session of Parliament or an all-party meeting to discuss the issue of recruitment of armed forces and forge a bipartisan consensus on the matter.

Claiming that the Agneepath scheme was not suitable for India, Hooda alleged that the government was bringing schemes from other countries which showed that it was influenced by western concepts. He alleged that there was a disconnect between government policies and rural India, prime examples of which are the Land Acquisition Act, agricultural legislation and now the Agneepath scheme.

In a tweet in the message, Priyanka Gandhi said that “not even 24 hours had passed” that the BJP government had to change the rules of the new army recruitment scheme. This means that the scheme is being forced on the youth in a hurry, the Congress general secretary said.

Priyanka Gandhi said, “Narendra Modi ji, withdraw this scheme immediately. Give the appointments and put forth the result of the stalled recruitment in the Air Force.” He demanded, “Recruit in the army (with age relaxation) as before.” BJP leaders lauded the government’s decision to increase the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment under the Agneepath scheme.

BJP President JP Nadda said that it shows that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is fully aware of the concerns of the youth of the country and is making efforts for their bright future.

Underlining that the intention of the government is very clear, and it is sensitive, Union Minister Giriraj Singh said that the recruitment process will start in a few days, and requested all the youth to start preparing for it.