- Congress demands withdrawal of Agnipath Scheme
- The party will hold 'Satyagraha' protest to raise voice against the new recruitment scheme
- This Agnipath scheme is like playing with national security, a Congress leader said
The Congress will stage 'Satyagraha' across all assembly constituencies in the country on Monday demanding withdrawal of the "Tuglaqi" decision to roll out the Agnipath scheme for recruitment in the defence forces, the main opposition party said.
Twenty senior Congress leaders and spokespersons, including Pawan Khera in West Bengal, Ajay Maken in Lucknow, Supriya Srinate in Mumbai and Guarav Gogoi in Chennai, addressed press conferences titled 'Agnipath ki Baat: Yuwaon se Vishwasghaat' and demanded the scheme be rescinded, citing risk to national security and discontent among the youth.
Calling the short-term recruitment policy "anti-youth and anti-national", the party said it was "bulldozed through without discussion".
Congress leaders and activists will observe a "peaceful Satyagraha" on Monday from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM in all assembly constituencies.
Addressing a press conference here, Congress spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil said the party stands with the youth and this "Tughlaqi decision" should be withdrawn immediately.
Muhammad bin Tughlaq, who ruled the Delhi Sultanate for a short period of time in the 14th century, was known for his controversial decisions.
"At a time when China has entered our borders... this (Agnipath scheme) is like playing with national security," Gohil said.
"I demand from the prime minister that Agnipath be withdrawn and all those ministers or BJP spokespersons who say that the Agnipath scheme is good, they should get their sons and daughters recruited under the Agnipath scheme," he said.
Gohil also demanded an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya's remarks that he will give priority to 'Agniveers' for guarding the party office.
"The leader who said that Agniveers will be employed in BJP offices as guards should be sacked by the prime minister and the PM must apologise," Gohil demanded.
Addressing another press conference at the PCC headquarters in Jaipur, Congress Rajya Sabha MP from Haryana Deepender Singh Hooda also attacked the Centre over the Agnipath scheme and called the government a "copycat" for importing ideas from foreign nations to draft policies.
"The government has adopted the attitude of a 'Nakalchi Bandar (copycat)' but this is Hindustan. Sometimes it (the government) gives the example of America in the context of agriculture laws and at other times talks about Israel in reference to military service," he said.
Several states witnessed protests, including unbridled violence, after the scheme was announced on June 14.
It envisages recruiting in the armed forces youths in the age bracket of 17-and-half to 21 years for only four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years. For 2022, the upper age limit has been extended to 23 years.
The Congress had observed a peaceful Satyagraha at Jantar-Mantar in New Delhi and also in various states on the issue on June 20.
Congress MPs had also taken out a peaceful march from Parliament against Agnipath and a delegation of senior leaders submitted a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind requesting him to withdraw the controversial scheme. The president is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.