Recognise fake nationalists, country is with you: Priyanka Gandhi to youths protesting Agnipath


PTI, Jun 19, 2022, 5:03 PM IST

New Delhi: Urging the youth to recognize ”fake nationalists”, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Sunday said the Agnipath scheme would be destructive for the youth and the Army, as she assured her party’s full support to those protesting peacefully against the new recruitment model.

She made the remarks as Congress MPs and leaders sat on a ‘Satyagraha’ at Jantar Mantar here in solidarity with youths protesting the controversial scheme.

”There is no bigger patriot than you. I want to tell you, open your eyes and recognize the fake nationalists and fake patriots. The entire country and the Congress are with you in your struggle,” Priyanka Gandhi said in her remarks aimed at the youths protesting the Agnipath scheme.

In her address, the Congress general secretary also recited a few lines from Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s Hindi poem ‘Agnipath’ to urge the youths to persevere and keep struggling peacefully.

”The name of the poem has been given to a scheme that will destroy the youth. This scheme will destroy the Army. Recognize this government’s intentions.

”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 and takes forward the poor and the youth of the country,” Priyanka Gandhi said.

She also appealed to those protesting to not resort to violence.

”I want the youth to know that we understand your pain. This is your country and this country’s property is yours. So, it is your responsibility to protect it. I appeal to you to hold peaceful protests but not stop. It is your duty to protect the country’s democracy. Every leader of the Congress will support you in fulfilling this duty,” she said.

The Congress leader alleged that the government is working for big industrialists.

”I appeal to you to understand the situations around you (and) what the government is doing. This government is not working for the poor and its people but for big industrialists,” Priyanka Gandhi said.

She said she met youths in Uttar Pradesh who had lost hope of being recruited in the Army.

”I met some youths preparing for Army (recruitment) and they said that they have lost hope. They said they had been preparing to join the Army and were now going to sell sugarcane. We understand your pain,” she said.

Heavy deployment of police and paramilitary forces was seen at the protest site. The entry and exit points to Jantar Mantar were blocked.

Congress leaders shouted slogans like ”Na suraksha, na pension hai, Agnipath ek tension” and ”Agnipath ek jhansa hai, yuvaon ko fansa hai”. They also held placards demanding a rollback of the Agnipath 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 the ballooning salary and pension bills.

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