Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge

Modi govt playing with national security by 'imposing' Agnipath scheme: Congress

The Congress on Tuesday accused the Modi government of playing with national security by "imposing" the Agnipath scheme, and said the military recruitment programme would be scrapped when an INDIA bloc government is formed at the Centre to give justice to the patriotic youth of the country.

New Delhi | The Congress on Tuesday accused the Modi government of playing with national security by "imposing" the Agnipath scheme, and said the military recruitment programme would be scrapped when an INDIA bloc government is formed at the Centre to give justice to the patriotic youth of the country.

The Congress also said that the Agnipath scheme is a "national security threat" and it has shrunk the stream of recruitment which can compromise the country's security for the next decade.

"By imposing the Agniveer scheme, the Modi government has played with India's national security. We have three questions, whose befitting reply the public will now give to BJP in the last phase of the elections," Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said in a post in Hindi on X.

"Is it not true that Agnipath has reduced the number of recruitments from 75,000 per year to 46,000 per year? Is it not true that the Defence Minister of the country has to repeatedly reiterate that he will reconsider the Agniveer scheme, make changes and improvements in it," he asked.

"Is it not true that the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) and the Army are concerned about the continuing decline in induction of new soldiers which is set to reach its highest level by the end of this decade," the Congress chief asked in his post.

He said on one hand, the country's borders are facing Chinese infiltration, occupation and encroachment, for which more military force is needed, on the other hand, the Modi government has "destroyed" the lives of our patriotic youth through the Agnipath scheme.

"The Congress guarantees that we will scrap the Agniveer scheme. Only then will our patriotic youth get justice! Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Jai Hindustan," Kharge said.

Earlier in the day, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said that the scheme was a "national security threat".

His attack on the government came over a media report which claimed that the Department of Military Affairs is "actively" taking stock of the feedback on serving Agniveers from the services to analyse the effects of their induction to make the commensurate changes suitable for the Army, Air Force and the Navy.

In a post on X, Ramesh said, "The Indian Armed Forces need to maintain a dense/continuous deployment of personnel along Eastern Ladakh to protect against Chinese aggression".

"Agnipath has shrunk the stream of recruitment from 75,000 per year to 46,000 per year - the resulting shortfall of personnel can compromise our security for the next decade," Ramesh claimed.

'Agniveers' also have a mere six months of training before being considered battle-ready, he said.

"This is the result of a policy that the Modi Sarkar made with zero forethought, zero consultation, and in the face of active opposition of the three Army chiefs. The outgoing PM/sva-ghoshit Bhagwan's arrogance is more sacrosanct than the security of the country," Ramesh said.

On Monday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi too accused the Modi government of "playing with" national security and the future of the youth by bringing in the Agnipath scheme. He had asserted that the programme would be scrapped when an INDIA bloc government was formed at the Centre.

He also said that the Agnipath scheme was an insult to the patriotism of the country's armed forces and the youth.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has stoutly defended the Agnipath scheme, saying there cannot be a more attractive scheme for the youth as it offers a guarantee of a full-term job for 'agniveers' who retire following a four-year tenure in the armed forces.

The government rolled out the Agnipath recruitment scheme in June 2022 for short-term induction of personnel to bring down the age profile of the three services.

It provides for recruiting youngsters between the age bracket of 17-and-half years and 21 for four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years.

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