Indian Opposition MPs stage walk out from House panel meet over Agnipath scheme

New Delhi, July 23 (KMS): Indian Opposition members walked out of a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence to protest against the Panel Chairman’s decision not to allow a discussion on the Agnipath recruitment scheme.

Congress MPs K. C. Venugopal and Uttam Kumar Reddy, and Bahujan Samaj Party MP Danish Ali, who are members of the parliamentary panel on Defence, requested senior BJP leader and Committee Chairman Jual Oram to take up the Agnipath recruitment scheme as “it has huge national security implications and required parliamentary scrutiny”.

They argued that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and the three service chiefs have made a presentation before the Consultative Committee on Defence.

When the Opposition leaders are said to have asked Jual Oram to schedule the discussion on Agnipath scheme in the next meeting, he suggested that they can raise the issue on the floor of the House. The agenda cannot be altered since it is decided at the beginning of the year, he added.

“The Chairman turned a deaf ear to these crucial questions & the scheme was not discussed. No discussion in Parliament, no deliberations in the Parliament Standing Committees, thus goes the way of bulldozing legislations in the Modi era,” K. C. Venugopal later tweeted.

“We urged the Chairman to clarify; Why the Parliament Standing Committee on Defence was kept in dark on the #AgnipathRecruitmentScheme? Why the Scheme was not taken up in the committee’s budget scrutiny meetings despite involving financial implications?” asked the Congress leader.

The Opposition members are said to have argued that the Agnipath scheme was the biggest change in the armed forces since Independence and needed to be discussed in the Parliamentary Committee on Defence, where government actions are scrutinised.

“What the government was trying to hide and what is this secret about the Agnipath scheme?” they asked.

After almost half an hour of discussion in the panel meeting, the three Opposition members walked out in protest.

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