Rajnath Singh briefs House panel on Agnipath scheme
Ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday briefed the Parliamentary Consultative Committee on Defense on the Agneepath scheme, at the end of which opposition MPs submitted a memorandum demanding its immediate withdrawal.
Congress MPs Mallikarjun Kharge and Shaktisinh Gohil, Nationalist Congress Party’s Supriya Sule, Trinamool Congress’s Saugata Roy, and Sudip Bandopadhyay and Rashtriya Janata Dal’s A.D. Singh signed. But Congress’s Manish Tewari, who has publicly praised the plan, did not sign the document. According to sources, he told others that the advisory committee should not be used as a political platform.
Soon after the opening remarks by Mr. Singh and the presentation made by the Department of Military Affairs, sources said Congress member Shaktisinh Gohil made a detailed comment condemning the plan. He said that this scheme should first be started as a pilot project.
He said it was a political decision and not a call by the Indian armed forces. “Who did the first tweet? Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which clearly shows that even the Defense Minister had very little involvement in the decision-making process,” he said, according to those who attended the meeting.
Trinamool’s Mr. Roy also backed this saying that the government should not have tried to take ownership of the scheme. He should have allowed the army to lead.
Mr. Gohil further attacked the government, saying that the army officers addressed a press conference only when protests broke out across the country. Mr. Gohil also informed that the Indian Army had advertised vacancies in 2020 based on which many applicants appeared for Medical and Physical Examination in February 2021. Even when the successful candidates were waiting for a call, the Agneepath scheme was announced in a hurry.
Although Mr. Tewari did not sign the opposition’s memorandum, according to sources, during the 90-minute-long meeting, he asked the defense minister to explain whether the plan was aimed at reducing the army from its current strength of 1.4 million to one. Correct size. million and if it was so, he said, the government should say so.
Neither the Defense Minister nor other officials had a clear and emphatic answer to this. He reiterated that the scheme was aimed at reducing the age profile. There were also questions on operational readiness, especially with the Agneepath Recruitment Scheme.
Opposition parties are expected to corner the government on this plan during the monsoon session of Parliament starting next week.
After the scheme was unveiled on June 14, there were reports of violent protests against it from several states for almost a week and various opposition parties called for its withdrawal.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) recently said that it has received around 7.5 lakh applications under the scheme. The registration process started on the 24th of June.