Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala (Photo: ANI)
Congress general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala opposed the Agnipath scheme and said the Narendra Modi government is playing with the country's security and future of the youth.
There is so much anger among the youth against this scheme and big protests were seen in many parts of Haryana and elsewhere in the country, Surjewala, who is a Rajya Sabha MP, said, according to a statement.
Surjewala said several defence experts and ex-servicemen have also expressed deep concern about this entire scheme. They believe "four-year contractual recruitment is not a favourable message for the country's security", he said.
The government on Tuesday unveiled the scheme for the recruitment of soldiers in the Army, Navy and the Air Force largely on a four-year short-term contractual basis, in a major overhaul of the decades-old selection process.
Under the scheme, youths between the ages of 17 and a half and 21 years will be inducted into the three services. After completion of the four-year tenure, the scheme provides for retaining 25 per cent of the recruits for regular service.
The government has said the new model will not only bring in new capabilities to the armed forces but will also open up avenues for the youth in the private sector.
According to Surjewala, defence experts and several ex-Army officers have said the decision of the Centre is like playing with the dignity, tradition, sense of belonging and discipline in the Indian armed forces.
The Centre is playing with the country's security and future of the youth, he alleged.
More than 2,55,000 posts are lying vacant in the three armed forces and the Centre has stopped military recruitment for the last two years.
In a separate statement, senior Congress leader and former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said the Agnipath scheme is neither in the interest of the country nor in the interest of the youth "as the future of 75 per cent of the youth who are recruited under this scheme will plunge into darkness".
"Today, the recruitment in the Army starts from the age of 18 and, after 15 years of service, he comes back home after retirement with the pension. But the jawan recruited at the age of 17 under the Agnipath scheme will retire at the age of 21 without pension. Similarly, a jawan recruited at the age of 21 will retire by the age of 25. But what will he do after that, the government has no answer," he said.
Hooda said military reforms are necessary but it should be adopted very carefully.
"These reforms cannot be implemented by looking at only one aspect. Plans like recruitment in the Army for four years are suitable for those countries which do not have conflict with any other country, or a country whose population is very less and the people there do not want to join the Army.
"In a vast country like India, where there is a situation of conflict with countries like Pakistan and China, a scheme like Agnipath will not prove to be effective, he said.
Meanwhile, Indian National Lok Dal's senior leader Abhay Singh Chautala said that if the government feels the Agnipath scheme will help cut the salary and pension bills of the armed forces then it should start with imposing curbs on hefty allowances, facilities and pensions of MPs and MLAs.
He said what was being apprehended about this scheme was seen today in protests by the youth in various parts of the country.
Chautala said that if the BJP government does not take back the scheme soon then the protests across the country will intensify.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
First Published: Jun 17 2022 | 8:21 AM IST