Lok Sabha Elections 2024: ‘ECI wrong,’ says P Chidambaram on poll body’s rap over Rahul Gandhi’s Agniveer poll plank

Congress leader and former Union Minister P Chidambaram has called Election Commission of India (ECI) wrong in directing the grand old party against criticising the Agniveer scheme in poll season.

Chidambaram’s remark come a day after the poll panel asked the Congress party to ensure that its leaders don’t indulge in ‘political propaganda’ involving activities of the defence forces.

“ECI is wrong in directing the Congress party not to ‘politicise’ the Agniveer scheme. What does ‘politicize’ mean? Does the ECI mean ‘criticise’?” Chidambaram, the former Union Home Minister, said in a post on X on May 23.

The poll panel had also asked the party president Malikarjun Kharge to ensure that the leaders do not make statements which give ‘false impression’ that the Constitution “may be abolished or sold”. The Election Commission, in its notice to Kharge on May 22, mentioned speeches by Rahul Gandhi, without naming the Wayanad Member of Parliament (MP).

Also Read: Rahul Gandhi says PM Modi turned soldiers into labourers: Top 5 quotes from Haryana rally

Both ‘Agniveer’ and ‘Constitution’ are key political issues raised by the Congress party leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, in their campaign against the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government at the centre during the ongoing Lok Sabha Elections 2024. In fact, Rahul Gandhi has repeatedly promised to scrap the Agniveer scheme if the INDIA bloc government comes to power.

Approved by the Union government in June 2022, the ‘Agnipath’ or ‘Agniveer’ scheme is a process for recruiting soldiers in the Army, Navy, and Air Force, to be hired for a term of four years on contract. 

Chidambaram said in his post that since the Agniveer scheme is a product of the policy of the government, it is the right of an Opposition political party to criticise a policy of the government and declare that, if voted to power, the scheme will be scrapped. Agniveer, he said, creates two categories of soldiers who fight together, and that is ‘wrong.’

Also Read: ‘Will investigate…’, Rahul Gandhi on report on Adani’s suspected fraud in alleged coal scam

“Agniveer employs a young man for for four years and throws him out without a job and without a pension, and that is wrong. Agniveer was opposed by the Army, yet the government thrust the scheme upon the Army, and that is wrong. Hence, the Agniveer scheme must be scrapped. ECI was egregiously wrong in giving the direction to the Congress party and, as a citizen, it is my right to say that ECI was egregiously wrong,” Chidambaram said.

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Published: 23 May 2024, 07:15 AM IST

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