KOLKATA: Members of the opposition parties on Monday submitted a memorandum demanding withdrawal of the Agnipath Scheme at the Parliamentary Consultative Committee for Defence.
However, in an interesting development, sources said that Congress’ Manish Tewari did not sign the memorandum despite other members from his party signing it. However, it is learnt that Tewari, who had in the past publicly praised the scheme, did raise his voice against the scheme. He wanted to know whether the scheme, in any manner, would impact the pension bill.
The MPs who signed it included Congress’ Shaktisinh Gohil, Rajani Patil, Supriya Sule of Nationalist Congress Party, Saugata Roy and Sudip Bandyopadhyay of All India Trinamool Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal’s AD Singh.
The committee has 20 MPs – 13 from the Lok Sabha and seven from the Rajya Sabha – as its members. While 12 MPs were present during the meeting on Monday, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury skipped the two-hour meeting.
Union defence minister Rajnath Singh, along with three service chiefs, briefed the parliamentary panel about the Scheme.
Meanwhile, opposition parties also demanded that the entire matter of the Agnipath Scheme should be referred to the Defence Standing Committee after withdrawal.
Speaking to The New Indian, All India Trinamool Congress MP Sougata Roy said, “From AITC Sudip Bandyopadhyay and I were there (in the meeting). We opposed the scheme intensely. Also, many members of the consultative committee raised voices against the Agnipath Scheme.”
“We mentioned that Agnipath Scheme did not have its required discussions before being introduced and that resulted in serious violence throughout the nation. If after four years the unemployed youth of the country go out of control the law and order will be endangered,” Roy, who is a member of the Committee, added.
Comparing Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Forces with the Agnipath Scheme, Roy said that the killing of Japan’s former PM Shinzo Abe too was done by a man released from the Department of Defense.
Since the Committee does not hold any mandatory power, the opposition members demanded that the entire matter should be referred to the Defence Standing Committee, but at first, it should be withdrawn.