Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday asked the government to withdraw the Agnipath military recruitment scheme, citing a lack of job prospects for the youth after the temporary service in the armed forces.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh on June 14 announced the scheme for recruiting youth aged between 17-and-a-half and 21 years for a four-year tenure, with a one-time exception of up to 23 years for this year.
“From one rank, one pension, this government has gone to no rank, no pension,” Gandhi said while addressing Congress leaders in New Delhi.
He said the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which claims to be nationalist, was weakening the forces instead of strengthening them. “They are doing this while China has encroached over 100 kilometres of the Indian territory, a fact the government has admitted. When there is a war, the country will pay the price for weakening the armed forces,” he said while saying the Congress will ensure the scheme is withdrawn.
Gandhi said the summons the Enforcement Directorate (ED) issued to him for questioning in the money laundering probe linked to the National Herald newspaper was inconsequential compared to the bigger problem the country was grappling with — unemployment. “The government has broken the backbone of this country that is the small and medium enterprises,” he said. “The government can try but it will not be able to provide the youth with the employment opportunities they need.”
Gandhi said when ED officials asked him how was he so patient, he replied that he practised vipassanā meditation. “Each Congress leader, each worker, knows the meaning and need for patience. I have been working for the Congress since 2004 and it has taught me patience and strength each day.”
He said the truth will prevail. “It is lies that get tried, not the truth. No one can scare or intimidate Congress leaders, because they fight for the truth and the truth cannot be suppressed.”