The Congress party on Wednesday (29 June) distanced itself from senior leader and Lok Sabha MP Manish Tewari's stand favouring the Modi government's Agnipath scheme. The grand old party said that Tewari's views are entirely personal and not of the party.
Congress has been vehemently protesting against the new military recruitment scheme launched earlier this month. The party has demanded that the government roll back the plan.
Congress' Jairam Ramesh, a staunch Gandhi family loyalist, said that the party sees Agnipath as "anti-national security and anti-youth".
Ramesh, who the Gandhis recently appointed as general secretary in-charge of communication, added that the views shared by Tewari in the op-ed are "entirely his own and not of the party".
Responding to Ramesh on Twitter, Tewari said the tagline of the article does say the views are personal. "I wish @Jairam_Ramesh ji would have read it right till the very end," the Lok Sabha MP said.
Tewari is one of the few opposition leaders who have supported the military's Agnipath scheme for the recruitment of soldiers.
The remarks were at variance with his party, which criticised the government over the scheme and demanded that it be kept in abeyance and the next step be taken only after holding wider consultations with experts and others. The Congress and other opposition parties have also been accused of fueling protests against the scheme.
Earlier this month, Tewari had said the Agnipath scheme is a much-needed reform in the right direction while noting that the armed forces should not be an employment guarantee programme.
'I do empathise with youth who have concerns over Agnipath recruitment process. Reality is India needs a younger armed force with lighter human footprint, savvy on technology, equipped with state of art weaponry. Armed forces of Union shouldn't be an employment guarantee programme,' the Congress leader had said on Twitter after the launch of the scheme.
Witing in the Indian Express today (28 June), Tewari has argued that the Agnipath scheme is part of a larger process of defence reform and modernisation.
"The Agniveer recruitment reform must be contextualised in the backdrop of the larger canvas of defence reforms that include the appointment of a CDS, a reorganisation of the armed forces into theatre commands to promote jointness and synergy," the Congress leader writes.
"The future of warfare entails a lighter human footprint, but soldiers equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry, supported by cutting-edge technology to fight a war in a highly informationised environment. This recruitment reform would help in right sizing the armed forces provided it gets dovetailed into the imperatives of fifth generation warfare," he added.
(With inputs from PTI)
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