Agnipath protests: Aspirants are being misled, says Union Minister Anurag Thakur



Condemning violence being perpetrated in the garb of protests, Union Minister Anurag Thakur on Thursday said that Centre’s Agnipath scheme is a big step towards fitter and modernised armed forces. He was speaking at the inaugural edition of CNN-News18 Town Hall.

“The Agnipath scheme is a big step for the Indian Army. 10% reservation in Central Armed Police Forces has also been announced (for Agniveers)… Many states have already announced reservations for Agniveers in different departments,” the Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting and Youth Affairs & Sports said.

Condemning the violence, he said the youth are being misled. “Some people are trying to do politics on it. Children were sent for protests. What will they know about the scheme? I would like to appeal to the youth: if you have questions, let’s discuss them… We need disciplined people in the armed forces. I condemn the vandalism and violence. Aspirants are being misled.”

Protests turned violent in several parts of the country including Bihar and Telangana in which the trains were set ablaze at some places. Notably, ever since the scheme was launched by the government, the Ministry of Home Affairs, and several state governments have announced that Agniveers, after serving the armed forces for 4 years, will be given preference in filling of vacancies in police forces. Several other departments have also announced support to the Agnipath scheme.

On Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s criticism of the recent announcement of opening up 10 lakh jobs in the central government, Anurag Thakur said Gandhi should have welcomed the move instead. “Rahul Gandhi should go ahead and first give details of the corruption he has done. If he gives the details of funds for which he is being investigated by the ED, then it will be a big deal. The Congress ruled for more than 60 years. They did not give jobs in Congress-ruled states. We don’t just make announcements like the Congress. We actually follow through,” he noted.

While talking about the government’s response during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Thakur said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first priority was that the poor should not suffer. “During the pandemic, PM Modi accepted the challenge and served the nation with full will power and humanitarian support. In tough times, we had hope in PM Modi’s leadership. India has achieved a vaccination record of 195 crore. PM Modi was the first to think of the need for COVID certificate for global travel,” he said.

At the event, Thakur also spoke in detail about the upcoming Assembly election in Himachal Pradesh. He said Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP “will not get a single seat in Himachal Pradesh.” The Union Minister also ruled himself out of contention for the CM’s post in the state. “I have no intention of becoming the CM of Himachal Pradesh as of now as Modi ji has given me the responsibility to boost sports and youth development.”

Meanwhile, Thakur lauded the Indian contingent’s record medal haul at the Tokyo Olympics and said the country will see better performance at the Paris games in 2024. “We will perform better in the 2024 Olympics. The PM himself speaks to our athletes before and after the games. Neeraj Chopra won Gold for India at the Tokyo Olympics. Today, people of India have a great future in sports.”

Speaking on Pakistan, the sports minister said at the event that resuming bilateral sports with Pakistan depends on its actions on the issue of terrorism. “It depends on the government and the situation. So far, BCCI has not taken any call on that. Pakistan needs to stop terrorist activities at the borders, only then will we be able to think about it.”

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