Ahead of the Monsoon Session of Parliament, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh gave a presentation to the Parliamentary Consultative Committee on Defence members on the "Agnipath" scheme for military recruitment on Monday, with some opposition MPs demanding its immediate withdrawal.
After the nearly-two-hour meeting addressed by the defence minister and the three chiefs of the armed forces, opposition MPs, including those from the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Trinamool Congress (TMC), raised objections to the new recruitment scheme and said it should be rolled back. Sources said Congress MP Shaktisinh Gohil cited the criticism of the scheme by experts and decorated soldiers and said it should be withdrawn as it would affect the morale of the forces and create confusion.
He said the scheme should first be launched as a pilot project and those trained be recruited in the armed forces. It should only be introduced after working out various modalities, Gohil added. The Congress leader was supported by NCP MP Supriya Sule and TMC MP Saugata Roy.
They also gave a written document to the defence minister, seeking the withdrawal of the scheme, but Congress MP Manish Tewari did not sign it. Tewari has publicly lauded the Agnipath scheme, saying it is a much-needed reform as the armed forces of various other countries have introduced such a scheme. The presentation was aimed at addressing the concerns of the opposition leaders ahead of the Monsoon Session of Parliament, starting July 18.
After briefing the MPs in the committee, the defence minister, the three service chiefs and the defence secretary answered several queries raised by them. After the unveiling of the scheme on June 14, violent protests against it were reported from several states for nearly a week and various opposition parties had demanded its rollback. The Indian Air Force (IAF) recently said it has received around 7.5 lakh applications under the scheme. The registration process began on June 24.
(With PTI Inputs)