Agnipath protests: Priyanka Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Tejashwi Yadav reacts to Centre’s defence scheme

Protests against the Agnipath scheme, which the Central government announced on Tuesday, continued throughout the week and have elicited varied reactions from political leaders across the spectrum.

Meanwhile, Congress MPs and top leaders, including general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, sat on a “Satyagraha” at the Jantar Mantar in solidarity with the youths protesting against the Agnipath scheme.

Here are some of the key reactions.

Govt not working for poor and youth but for big industrialists: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra 

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, speaking at the Congress ‘Satyagraha’ in support of Agnipath protests, accused the government of not working for poor and youth but for big industrialists.

“Recognise ‘fake nationalists’, the entire country is with you in your struggle,” she told the protesting youths. Gandhi appealed to them to protest peacefully and assured her party’s full support for the cause.

Youth protesting against Agnipath scheme unaware of its benefits: Muraleedharan 

The youth protesting against the Agnipath scheme are those who are unaware of its benefits to them as well as the Indian armed forces, Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said on Sunday and urged them to withdraw from their agitation.

Speaking to reporters here, Muraleedharan said the youth need not be apprehensive about the scheme for the recruitment of youths aged between 17 and a half and 21 in the Army, Navy and the Air Force, largely on a four-year short-term contractual basis. He said youngsters were protesting against it without knowing about it.

PM has forced youth to walk on ‘Agnipath’ of unemployment: Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said by repeatedly giving false hope of jobs, he has forced the youth to walk on ‘Agnipath’ of unemployment.

He also said 16 crore jobs were to be given in eight years, but the youth only got knowledge on “frying pakoras”. “By repeatedly giving false hope of jobs, the prime minister has forced the youth of the country to walk on the ‘Agnipath’ of unemployment,” Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi.

“In 8 years, 16 crore jobs were to be given but the youth only got knowledge on frying pakoras,” the former Congress chief said. Only the prime minister is responsible for this condition of the country, he added.

Take back ‘Agnipath’ to avoid repeat of farm laws: Sachin Pilot

Congress leader Sachin Pilot on Sunday urged the government not to be “stubborn” and immediately withdraw the new military recruitment scheme Agnipath for wider consultations to avoid a repeat of the farm laws episode.

“This has nothing to do with the Opposition. It is a genuine grievance of young people. They (government) must listen to their voice and not be stubborn in their decision-making, review and revise, but for now they must withdraw it (scheme),” Pilot, who is himself a Captain in the Territorial Army, said. “They (government) took one year and a lot of political compulsions for farm laws to be withdrawn. This is even more serious, involving the future of the youth, and they must put a stop on this policy immediately,” the former Union minister said.

Is this MGNREGA-like step for educated youth or ‘hidden agenda’ of RSS: Tejashwi Yadav

RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav on Sunday said there were many doubts about the scheme in the minds of the youth and demanded that it be withdrawn.

Addressing a press conference here, he asked whether this was a MGNREGA-like initiative for the educated youth or there was a “hidden agenda” of the RSS in it. Yadav also appealed to the youth to protest peacefully against the scheme.

Why is Prime Minister Narendra Modi silent on the whole issue, he asked. He said the government talked about ‘one rank, one pension’, but has come up with a scheme of “no rank, no pension”.

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(Compiled from PTI reports)

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