‘Agnipath’: Congress’s Manish Tewari Refuses To Sign Opposition’s Letter
The Congress was severely embarrassed today as a result of its letter of protest on the contentious Agnipath military recruitment programme. Senior party official Manish Tewari declined to sign the letter addressed to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who was presenting the plan to a parliamentary committee. Tewari has previously caused the party intense distress with his public criticism.
Mr. Tewari has shown vocal support for those who were against the Agnipath plan. He declared today that while he supported modernization, he opposed the adoption of Agnipath. Nevertheless, the sources claimed that he would not sign the letter.
Six opposition MPs, including Shaktisinh Gohil of the Congress, Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Sougata Roy of the Trinamool Congress, Supriya Sule of the Nationalist Congress Party, and AD Singh of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, signed the letter, which contained a list of requests.
Twenty people, including 13 members of the Lok Sabha and about seven of the Rajya Sabha, make up the committee on defence that Mr. Singh chairs.
Violent demonstrations broke out after the Agnipath initiative was unveiled last month in various northern states, including Bihar. Many opposition parties supported the demonstration, which lasted over a week and called for a reversal.
The Indian Air Force announced earlier this week that it has received around 7.5 lakh applications for the programme.
In his latest book, Mr. Tewari, one of the G-23 leaders whose angry letter to Sonia Gandhi made headlines, criticised the UPA administration for its response to the 26/11 terrorist strikes.
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