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Manish Tewari supports defence reforms; Congress distances

New Delhi, June 29, 2022 – The Congress on Wednesday distanced itself from its MP Manish Tewari’s endorsment of the Centre’s Agnipath scheme at a time when the party has launched nationwide protest demanding its rollback.

Asserting that the party will oppose the scheme with all its might, Party General Secretary Jairam Ramesh said: “Manish Tewari, INC MP, has written an article on Agnipath. While @INCIndia is the only democratic party, it must be said his views are entirely his own & not of the party, which firmly believes Agnipath is anti-national security & anti-youth, bulldozed through without discussion.”

Speaking to IANS, Tewari had said that the process of Defence reforms, including right sizing the military started in the US way back in 1975 when Donald Rumsfield was the Defence Secretary in the Ford Administration and every successive administration has seen it through.

“Rumsfeld initiated the conceptual basis of preparing the armed forces for future warfare as he could envision the changing nature of the battlefield,” he said.

“Even the Chinese started the process of right-sizing the PLA way back 1985.”

“PLA’s size was cut by 10 lakh in 1985; 5,00,000 in 1997; 2,00,000 in 2003; 3,00,000 in 2015 and from 2017 onwards the People’s Liberation Army of China is being further right sized from 20 to 10 lakh by 50 per cent,” he said.

The defence reform is a part of a larger strategic horizon and not merely an act of internal reorganisation,” the MP added.

Tewari in his book ’10 Flashpoints 20 Years’ has mentioned about why the country urgently needs defence reforms. Out of every Rupee spent on defence in India 25 paisa goes towards pensions only. Salaries take away an additional substantive chunk leaving little room for capital expenditure on defence modernisation, Tewari said.

“The reforms now being implemented by the government were recommended by the Kargil review committee (KRC) in 1999 and the Group of Ministers constituted to vet the recommendations too had supported the reforms, including right sizing the armed Forces.

“Even the Naresh Chandra committee had also endorsed many of the recommendations of KRC and GOM that Defence Forces need to be leaner in their disposition,” he said.

Tewari’s remarks are in contrast to the official line of the Congress on the Agnipath system. Last week, he had said in a tweet: “I do empathise with youth who have concerns over Agnipath recruitment Process. Reality is India needs a younger armed force with lighter human footprint savvy on technology, equipped with state of art weaponry. Armed forces of Union shouldn’t be an employment guarantee programme.”  (Agency)

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