Top Congress leaders as well as MPs sat on a 'Satyagraha' protest at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantra on Sunday, 19 June, in solidarity with the youths protesting against the Modi government’s newly announced Agnipath scheme for recruitment in the armed forces.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and party leaders Jai Ram Ramesh, Rajiv Shukla, Sachin Pilot, Salman Khurshid and Alka Lamba took part in the 'Satyagraha'.
Addressing the youth, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra asked for them to “recognise the fake nationalists".
“There is no bigger patriot than you. I want to tell you, open your eyes and recognise the fake nationalists and fake patriots. The entire country and the Congress are with you in your struggle," she said.
"In a democratic way and by walking on the path of truth and non-violence, bring down this government. Your objective should be (to ensure) that such a government is formed in the country which shows real patriotism," she further said.
'Protestors Don't Want Just Any Job': Sachin Pilot
Speaking to PTI, Sachin Pilot said that many of those aspiring to be in armed forces are from poor and rural backgrounds.
"These (protesting) youngsters are all from rural background. They see their families in long-term financial stress and debt, and then you have inflation, joblessness, it leads to insecurities, and on top of that, you also take away a good opportunity of serving in the armed forces, so it is a culmination of all those issues that has resulted in the severe backlash we are seeing," he said.
"We must remember who are the people who go for armed forces jobs. It is primarily families of farmers, those from rural areas and children with humble backgrounds. Scores of young people have not just aspirations to get a job, but to don the olive green uniform of the armed forces,"Sachin Pilot
The Centre's Agnipath Scheme
The country has been seeing widespread protests across different states against the scheme.
The Agnipath scheme, announced on June 14, provides for the recruitment of youths in the age bracket of 17-and-half to 21 years for only four years with a provision to retain 25 percent of them for 15 more years. Later, the government extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment in 2022.
The personnel to be recruited under the new scheme will be known as Agniveers. A major objective of the scheme is to bring down the average age of military personnel and cut ballooning salary and pension bills. However, the protesting youth argued that 4 years is very little time, and not being retained in the army will render them unemployable and thus is financially insecure.
(With inputs from PTI.)