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Agnipath scheme: Congress distances itself from Manish Tewari's views, terms initiative as 'anti-national security and anti-youth'

Congress MP Manish Tewari said this recruitment reform would help in right-sizing the armed forces provided it gets dovetailed into the imperatives of fifth-generation warfare.

  • The Congress distanced itself from party MP Manish Tewari's stand favouring the Agnipath scheme
  • The party clarified that those were entirely his own views and not of the party
  • The new military recruitment initiative is "anti-national security and anti-youth", it clarified

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Agnipath scheme: Congress distances itself from Manish Tewari's views, terms initiative as 'anti-national security and anti-youth'

New Delhi: The Congress on Wednesday distanced itself from party MP Manish Tewari's stand favouring the Agnipath scheme, saying those were entirely his own views and not of the party which firmly believes the new military recruitment initiative is "anti-national security and anti-youth". In an article in the Indian Express, Tewari wrote that the Agniveer recruitment reform must be contextualised in the backdrop of the larger canvas of defence reforms that include the appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff, a reorganisation of the armed forces into theatre commands to promote jointness and synergy.

The future of warfare entails a lighter human footprint, but soldiers equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry, supported by cutting-edge technology to fight a war in a highly informationised environment, he said. This recruitment reform would help in right-sizing the armed forces provided it gets dovetailed into the imperatives of fifth-generation warfare, Tewari said.

In response to the article, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said on Twitter, "Manish Tewari, INC MP, has written an article on Agnipath. While @INCIndia is the only democratic party, it must be said his views are entirely his own & not of the party, which firmly believes Agnipath is anti-national security & anti-youth, bulldozed through without discussion."

Responding to Ramesh on Twitter, Tewari said the tagline of the article does say 'the views are personal'. "I wish @Jairam_Ramesh ji would have read it right till the very end," the Lok Sabha MP said and attached a screenshot of the article where it was written at the end that the views were personal.

Earlier also, Tewari had said the new Agnipath scheme is a much-needed reform in the right direction while noting that the armed forces should not be an employment guarantee programme. "This is a reform which is much-needed and is a reform in the right direction," Tewari had said.

"I do empathise with youth who have concerns over Agnipath recruitment Process.Reality is India needs a younger armed force with lighter human footprint savvy on technology, equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry. Armed forces of Union shouldn't be an employment guarantee programme," he had said.

Tewari has often taken a stand at variance with the party lines. Following the Sangrur by-election results in which the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) candidate Simranjit Singh Mann defeated the ruling AAP candidate, Tewari had said, "Sangrur bye-election definitely is a wake up call for @AamAadmiParty.Has other implications too. @INCPunjab rather than exulting should introspect why it dropped from 3,03,350 votes-2019 to 79,668 votes -2022 & lost its deposit. In Delhi by-Polls @INCIndia polled only 2014 votes."

Several states witnessed protests, including unbridled violence, after the Agnipath scheme was announced on June 14. It envisages recruiting in the armed force's youth 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 has been vehemently protesting the Agnipath scheme and its leaders had observed a "peaceful Satyagraha" on Monday in all assembly constituencies, demanding withdrawal of the scheme. It had also observed a peaceful Satyagraha at Jantar-Mantar in New Delhi and also in various states on the issue on June 20.

Congress MPs had 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.

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