Bulldozed: Congress Cites Ex Army Chief’s Book Over Agnipath Scheme

'Bulldozed...': Congress Cites Ex Army Chief's Book Over Agnipath Scheme

He said M M Naravane disclosed in his memoir that Agnipath came as surprise (File)

New Delhi:

Citing a new book written by former Army chief General M M Naravane, the Congress alleged on Tuesday that the Agnipath scheme for short-term recruitment into the armed forces was “bulldozed” through, “without meaningful consultations” with those who were being directly impacted by such a “disastrous policy”.

In a post on X, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said, “The headlines are being hogged by the mass suspension of INDIA MPs that has reached 142 till now. But these headlines should not minimise the importance of other news.” 

Former Chief of Army Staff General M M Naravane has disclosed in his memoir that the Agnipath or Agniveer scheme came as a total surprise to the Army, Air Force and Navy chiefs, Mr Ramesh said.

“He (Naravane) has now confirmed what had been commonly believed when the Agnipath/Agniveer scheme was bulldozed through without meaningful consultations with those who were being directly impacted by such a disastrous policy,” he said.

At a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi weeks after becoming the Army chief, General Naravane sounded out in early 2020 about the “Tour of Duty” scheme for inducting soldiers for short tenures but months later, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) came up with a formulation with a much wider scope to include all the three services.

This is what General Naravane has written in his memoir, titled “Four Stars of Destiny”, while elaborating on the birth of the Agnipath scheme — considered India’s most radical military recruitment policy.

After the formulation of the new scheme, General Naravane has said the Army was “taken by surprise by this turn of events, but for the Navy and Air Force, it came like a bolt from the blue”.

“When I had first sounded out the prime minister about the Tour of Duty scheme, it was more on the lines of a short-service option at the soldier level, similar to the Short Service Commission scheme for officers that was already in vogue,” the former Army chief has written.

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The Congress party in India has cited a new book written by former Army chief General M M Naravane, alleging that the Agnipath scheme for short-term recruitment into the armed forces was pushed through without proper consultation. Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh highlighted the book’s disclosure that the scheme came as a surprise to the Army, Air Force, and Navy chiefs. Ramesh criticized the lack of meaningful consultations with those directly impacted by the policy, calling it a disastrous decision. The Agnipath scheme, considered India’s most radical military recruitment policy, was formulated by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) with a wider scope than initially discussed with General Naravane. The former Army chief’s memoir, titled “Four Stars of Destiny,” details the birth of the scheme and how it caught the Army, Navy, and Air Force off guard. Ramesh emphasized the significance of this revelation amidst the ongoing suspension of 142 Indian MPs, urging the public not to overlook important news.

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