Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Monday chaired a meeting with Opposition leaders over the Centre’s new recruitment policy ‘Agnipath’ that triggered a massive uproar across the nation soon after it was unveiled a month ago.
After holding talks with senior leaders from the Opposition camp, the Union minister told reporters that it was a “great meeting”.
The meeting was a personal initiative by Singh to remove fears from the mind of Opposition MPs on Agnipath ahead of the Monsoon session of Parliament that is set to begin on July 18.
In one of the visuals shared by news agency ANI, Singh was seen with Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay.
All the three services of the country have already begun accepting applications for the ‘Agnipath’ scheme, with the Indian Air Force (IAF) leading the race with the highest number of registrations. Around 7,50,000 candidates have already registered for recruitment in the IAF, a ministry spokesperson told HT last week.
The Indian Army and Navy began accepting registrations for ‘Agniveers’ under the ‘Agnipath’ scheme on July 1. Under the recruitment policy, ‘Agniveers’ will be employed with the central services for four years, following which based on merit, medical fitness and willingness, 25 per cent of them will be retained in the regular cadre.
The Navy said last week that up to 20 per cent of the first batch of ‘Agniveers’ will be women, subject to their meeting qualification criteria. Officials told ANI that these recruited personnel will be sent to various branches of the country’s maritime defence force.
Navy officials have further said that since July 1, nearly 10,000 women candidates have applied to the force under the ‘Agnipath’ scheme.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-headed central government and the tri-services’ chiefs, however, have maintained their stance about the recruitment policy giving a chance to an Indian to serve the nation and also opening up varied paths to embark upon after four-years of service. Many state governments, including Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP is in power, have announced reservations in jobs for ‘Agniveers’, recruits of the short-term employment model.
Singh has also approved a proposal to reserve 10 per cent of job vacancies in the defence ministry for ‘Agniveers’.