Here’s a look at who said what on the scheme and the agitations that followed:
‘Agnipath’ scheme golden opportunity to serve nation: Rajnath
Union defense minister Rajnath Singh vouched for the government’s decision to approve the ‘Agnipath’ scheme and said that it gives a golden opportunity to the youth to join the defense system and serve the country. “The ‘Agnipath’ scheme by the central government gives a golden opportunity to the youth of the country to join the defense system and serve the country, he said.
“Due to a snag in the recruitment process in the army for two years, many youths did not get the opportunity to join the army. This is a fact. That is why, keeping in mind the future of the youth and showing sensitivity towards them , with the approval of the Prime Minister, the government has decided that this time the age limit for the recruitment of Agnivers should be increased from 21 to 23 years,” he also said.
“This one-time relaxation has been given by the government. This will automatically increase the eligibility of many young people to become Agniveers. The recruitment process is going to start in a few days. I appeal to all the youth to prepare for joining the army and take full advantage of it,” he said.
Modi can’t hear anything except voice of friends: Rahul Gandhi
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not understand what the people of the country want as he cannot hear anything except the voice of his “friends”.
He said this a day after the government raised the upper age limit to 23 years from 21 years for recruitment under ‘Agnipath’.
Gandhi also cited schemes such as GST, noteban, farm laws and now ‘Agnipath’, saying they were projected to be for the welfare of the people but were rejected by the citizens.
अग्निप् – नौजवानों ने नकारा कृषि कानून – किसानों ने नकारा नोटबंदी – अर्थशास्त्रियों ने नकारा GST https://www.rewmight/stat.wt…
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) 1655440093000
AAP demands rollback, to hold protest
The Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP extended its support to the demands of youth for the roll back of the scheme but made a fervent appeal to the protesters to exercise their right to protest in a democratic manner, instead of resorting to vanadalism and arson.
AAP Rajya Sabha MP and spokesperson Sanjay Singh also announced that his party will hold a protest against the scheme across all districts in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday. He alleged that PM Modi has brought the scheme for recruitment into the armed forces to cater to the demand of trained security guards in private companies.
People have right to protest but no place for violence: Naidu
Against the backdrop of agitations in various parts of the country over the ‘Agnipath’ defence recruitment scheme, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday said people have every right to protest but there is no place for violence in a democracy.
Damaging public property would be harming the nation’s interests, he said and called upon people to shun extremist tendencies.
Priyanka Gandhi calls for withdrawal of scheme
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra urged the Prime Minister to withdraw the scheme as the youth are opposing it with protests.
Noting that the BJP government had to change the rules of the new army recruitment scheme within 24 hours, she said, “This means that the plan has been imposed on the youth in a hurry,” she said. “Narendra Modi ji, please withdraw the scheme immediately,” she said in a tweet and urged him to recruit people in the air force, which has been held back.
Protests proof that youth will never accept Agnipath: Sisodia
Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Friday said the recruitment protests across the country are proof that the youth of the country will never accept the Agnipath defense scheme.
“Every youth has the right to join the army and dedicate their whole life for the country, but today the BJP is depriving them of this right. The demonstrations happening across the country are clear proof that the youth of India will never accept the Agnipath. No policy or law can be greater than the passion for service to the nation,” Sisodia said in a tweet.
Assam to absorb every ‘Agniveer’ in police service, says CM
Amid the raging protests against the Center’s Agnipath Scheme, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced on Friday that every ‘Agniveer’ who is a permanent resident of the state will be directly absorbed in the state police at the end of their four-year term in the army.
“In Assam there is no violence or protest against the Agnipath Scheme. We have decided that anyone who is a permanent resident of Assam and exits the Agnipath scheme at the end of his term will be recruited in Assam Police. He will be experienced with army training,” Sarma said.
‘Agnipath scheme to create a large pool of skilled workforce’
The Agnipath scheme will create a large pool of skilled youth who can contribute to India’s overall defense preparedness as well as the growth of the economy, the government said on Friday.
“Skill India and ministry of skill development and ship will work collaboratively with various wings of the Armed Forces to train the students in additional skills to make them better suited to these job roles,” an official statement said.
Agnipath ill-conceived move: MP consultative committee
Unhappy members of Parliament consultative committee for defence, reacting over the nationwide violence on the Agnipath scheme said that the recruitment scheme is an “ill-conceived move by Central Government.”
Notably, the members of the Defense Consultative Committee especially the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) raised concern over the Agnipath scheme “Agneepath is an ill conceived move and we will take up the matter in Defense Advisory Committee meeting before the upcoming Parliament session,” committee member Saugata Roy said.
Another TMC MP and floor leader of the party in Lok Sabha Sudip Bandopadhyay also clarified the party’s stand and said, “We will take up the Agnipath issue in the upcoming meeting with Rajnath Singh at an appropriate forum.”
Opposition provoking people: VK Singh
Amid violent protests in parts of the country over the Center’s scheme, Union minister and former Army chief General VK Singh (retd) on Friday accused the opposition of creating a controversy over the recruitment plan by “provoking” people.
Since the Opposition has nothing else to do, it is stocking a controversy over the scheme even before its implementation has started, he alleged. “There is no controversy in the scheme, but a controversy is being created by the opposition, which has nothing else to do. They are being surrounded by the ED,” he also said.
Cong’s Venugopal demands parliamentary panel meet
Congress MP KC Venugopal on Friday urged Parliament’s Standing Committee on Defense Chairman Jual Oram to convene an urgent meeting of all stakeholders and defense experts to discuss in detail the new ‘Agnipath’ scheme for recruitment to armed forces.
“…I urge you to convene an urgent meeting of the Standing Committee on Defense at the earliest to discuss and deliberate on the Agnipath scheme in detail,” he said in his letter.