Thursday, March 30, 2023

Congress leaders meet President Kovind


A delegation of senior Congress leaders on Monday met President Ram Nath Kovind and raised the issue of alleged ill-treatment of party MPs by police during their protest against the ED questioning of former party chief Rahul Gandhi.
The leaders also raised the issue of the Agnipath scheme and said that it should be rolled back.
The Congress delegation comprised Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, senior leaders P Chidambaram, Jairam Ramesh and K C Venugopal.
Over 50 party MPs earlier held a meeting at Parliament House and took out a solidarity march from Parliament to Vijay chowk, where they were stopped by the Delhi Police.
Kharge, after the meeting, said they raised the issue of harassment of senior Congress leaders and MPs staging peaceful protests against Gandhi’s questioning by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a “false case”.
“Our leaders were harassed and detained in police stations at far away places for 10 to 12 hours without any offence or case against them. Police have to inform the Lok Sabha speaker and Rajya Sabha chairman if MPs are detained for long hours,” he noted. “Our rights have also been violated during our protests against ED action. Our MPs were beaten up, especially women MPs, and we brought this to the notice of the president and urged him to take action against the police personnel involved,” Kharge told reporters.
Kharge said they also raised the issue of Agnipath scheme for recruitment in armed forces and the “wrong manner” in which it has been formulated as it will not benefit the country.
“The youth will not gain from this and they will not get any employment after four years of being in the armed forces,” he said.
The government has brought this scheme without consultations with the stakeholders and the youth will suffer badly due to the scheme, he said
In a series of tweets, Ramesh said, “A seven-member delegation of Congress led by Leader of Opposition, including two CMs, met Honourable President to submit two memoranda.”
“To urge government to withdraw Agnipath scheme, hold wide consultations and address issues of quality, efficiency and economy,without compromising on welfare of Armed Forces and to register strongest possible protest against the vicious and unprovoked attack unleashed on Congress MPs by Delhi Police, which comes under the direct purview of Union Home Ministry, and ensure a time-bound enquiry by the Privileges Committee on the breach of privilege,” he tweeted.
Chidambaram said the Agnipath scheme was “ill-conceived and misguided” and therefore, the country’s youth were on the streets protesting and revolting against it. “The scheme is a completely ill-conceived and none of the arguments put forward are justified,” he said, adding that everyday the government comes back with some change or concession in the scheme and calls it a pre-planned change.
“It is a dangerous scheme which will reduce the efficiency and effectiveness of our armed forces. We will have a six-month trained soldier serving for 3.5 years, with a sure knowledge that after four years he will be jobless,” he said.
“What kind of soldier will he be, what kind of a commitment he will have.”
The former Union minister said the Congress delegation has requested the president, as the supreme commander of the armed forces, to protect the Constitution, security and defence of the country as well as the traditions and ethos of the Army, Navy and Air Force. We also urged him to ensure that those who join the defence forces are not left high and dry after four years.
Asked whether the Congress will raise the issues in the upcoming monsoon session of parliament, he said, “We will raise these issues”. The second memorandum, he said, is about the excesses on Congress leaders and workers by police personnel who entered the party office, pulled them out and assaulted them.
“There is absolutely no justification. We were staging a peaceful Satyagrah. We had no stones in our hands, we had no lathis, we were not indulging in stone pelting, we were simply raising slogans and showing our solidarity with our leader. MPs and others have been assaulted and manhandled,” he said, claiming that a lady MP was admitted in Ram Manohar Lohia hospital whose clothes were torn and manhandled.
MPs were taken away 40-50 kms without an order, there was no order of arrest or detention served on any MP, he alleged.
“This is a clear breach of privilege and a violation of Article 19 and Article 21 and we have asked the Rashtrapati to please cause an inquiry into this and send the matter to the privileges committee,” Chidambaram said.
“Let the matter go to the Committee and we will present our case and let the Delhi police resent their case and let the Committe decide. He has assured us that he will look into this,” he said.
“We have requested the president to take up the matter. We have asked him to take it up with the Speaker, with the Chairman and the government,” the Congress leader said.
The Congress has already met the Lok Sabha Speaker and Rajya Sabha chairman and raised the issue with them. The party also staged a demonstration at the Jantar Mantar in support of their demands.


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