Congress leader Rahul Gandhi Wednesday alleged the BJP government "which calls itself nationalist" was "weakening" the armed forces through the 'Agnipath' scheme, and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have to withdraw the military recruitment initiative just like he rolled back the farm laws.
Taking a dig at the Centre over the 'Agnipath' scheme, he also said those who talked about 'one rank, one pension' were bringing in 'no rank, no pension'.
Addressing Congress parliamentarians and legislators from across the country who converged at the party headquarters here to express solidarity with him after he was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate, Gandhi said his questioning was an "unimportant" matter and the most important issue in the country is of jobs.
"The spine of the country -- small and medium industries -- has been broken by the Modi government. I say to all those who train in the morning to get into Army, Navy and Air force that the prime minister has broken the spine of the country and this country will not be able to give jobs to its youth," the former Congress chief said.
"No matter what the government does, it will not be able to give jobs as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has handed the country to two-three industrialists who cannot ensure jobs to the youth," Gandhi said.
Now, they have "closed" even the last resort for the youth -- to get into the armed forces, he said.
"Now, train in the morning get into the forces and then go home. I guarantee that after your stint in the military, you will not get any job," Gandhi said.
"The Chinese army is sitting on our land, it has snatched away over 1,000 square kilometre of our land. This truth has been accepted by the government," Gandhi claimed.
He asserted that the army should be strengthened but this government is "weakening it".
"When there is a war, results of this will be evident...they are weakening the army, it will harm the country, and they call themselves nationalists," Gandhi said, attacking the government.
"I had said about farm laws that Modi ji will have to take them back and he did. Now, the Congress is saying Prime Minister Modi will have to withdraw the Agnipath scheme and all the youth are standing with us on this," he said.
Gandhi said the youth of the country knows that real patriotism is about strengthening the armed forces and not in weakening it.
Addressing party leaders and workers, he said the party will work together to get "this new betrayal of the army and country by the government" annulled.
The former Congress chief also thanked party workers for their support during his questioning by the Enforcement Directorate in the National Herald case, and said he was not alone during the questioning but all those fighting for democracy were with him.
Gandhi said the officials at the ED asked him how come he did not get tired of the questioning and he cited the secondary reason that he practices Vipassana but the real reason was that all party workers and leaders were with him in spirit in that room where he was being questioned.
"Officials also asked me about the secret of my patience and I said I cannot tell you that. I did not tell them but the reason for it I am telling you now is that I have been working in the Congress since 2004 and patience is there in all our leaders," he said, citing the examples of Sachin Pilot, Siddaramaiah and Randeep Surjewala.
Gandhi asserted that a Congress worker never tires or gets scared.
Later in a tweet in Hindi, Gandhi said the Chinese army is "sitting on the soil of India".
"Mr. Prime Minister, true patriotism lies in strengthening the army, but you are weakening the army with a 'new deception'. In this movement to save the future of the country, we are with the youth," Gandhi said.
"I am saying again, you will have to take back 'Agnipath'," he added.
Addressing the gathering, Congress general secretary organisation K C Venugopal announced that the party has decided to hold a massive nationwide demonstration against 'Agnipath' on June 27, demanding the withdrawal of the scheme.
Several parts of the country witnessed protests after the announcement of the scheme that seeks to recruit youths between the age bracket of 17-and-half years to 21 for only four years with a provision to retain 25 percent of them for 15 more years. For 2022, the upper age limit has been extended to 23 years.
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