Rahul Gandhi Vows to Scrap Agnipath Scheme if INDIA Bloc Wins Lok Sabha Elections

Rahul Gandhi promises to scrap Agnipath scheme if INDIA bloc wins 2024 polls; defence experts divided on merits of the scheme.

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Rafia Tasleem
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Rahul Gandhi Vows to Scrap Agnipath Scheme if INDIA Bloc Wins Lok Sabha Elections

Rahul Gandhi Vows to Scrap Agnipath Scheme if INDIA Bloc Wins Lok Sabha Elections

Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the Congress party, has promised to scrap the Agnipath or 'Agniveer' scheme if the INDIA bloc is voted to power after the Lok Sabha elections. The Agnipath scheme, announced by the Centre in June 2022, seeks to recruit soldiers for only four years, with a provision to retain 25% of them in regular service.

Defence experts are divided on the issue, with some suggesting modifications to the scheme and others citing drawbacks, such as the lack of parliamentary debate before its implementation. Major General GD Bakshi (R) expressed reservations about the scheme but suggested tweaking it instead of scrapping it. Wing Commander (Retd) Praful Bakshi said there is no need to scrap the scheme, and it should be the voice of the public that decides its fate. PK Sehgal, another defence expert, said the scheme was 'forcefully imposed' without any debate in parliament and has many drawbacks.

Rahul Gandhi criticized the scheme, saying it is not liked by any youth in India and that the INDIA bloc government will throw it out if it comes to power. He and Akhilesh Yadav, leaders of the INDIA bloc, held a joint election rally in Amroha, Uttar Pradesh, where they promised to scrap the Agnipath/Agniveer scheme and conduct a caste census if the INDIA bloc forms the government at the Centre after the Lok Sabha elections.

The two leaders launched a blistering attack on the ruling BJP over issues like electoral bonds, farmers' issues, and unemployment. Yadav claimed that the BJP has lost the support of its traditional voters, and Rahul Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of helping a few industrialists and neglecting the poor and deprived sections of society. The INDIA bloc also promised to implement a Mahalaxmi Scheme, where one woman from every poor family would receive Rs 1 lakh annually through direct benefit transfer.

Why this matters: The Agnipath scheme has been a contentious issue since its introduction, with opposition parties using it as a political tool against the government. The debate around the scheme's merits and drawbacks, as well as the lack of parliamentary discussion, has raised concerns among defence experts and the public alike.

The Agnipath scheme, introduced by the central government in June 2022, recruits young men and women aged 17.5 to 21 years into the armed forces for a 4-year term, with only 25% being retained after completion. The Indian Army is set to conduct exams for Agniveer recruitment this month, and has seen a nearly 10% increase in applications compared to 2023, with a total of 12.8 lakh applicants. The military is collecting empirical data on the Agniveers to assess how the scheme can

Key Takeaways

  • Rahul Gandhi promises to scrap Agnipath scheme if INDIA bloc wins 2024 elections.
  • Defence experts divided on Agnipath, some suggest modifications, others cite drawbacks.
  • Rahul, Akhilesh hold joint rally, promise to scrap Agnipath, conduct caste census.
  • INDIA bloc also promises Mahalaxmi Scheme, providing Rs 1 lakh annually to poor women.
  • Agnipath scheme remains a contentious issue, with concerns over lack of parliamentary debate.