Reforms row temporary: PM Modi

Congress leaders march towards Presidents House from Parliament House against the Centres Agnipath scheme, in New Delhi on  Monday
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Congress leaders march towards President's House from Parliament House against the Centre's 'Agnipath' scheme', in New Delhi on Monday

Highlights

Scattered protests during bandh against Agnipath; Railways cancelled 529 trains as operations remained disrupted due to the protests; Army issues notification for registration

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said decisions and reforms may be unpleasant temporarily but with time the country will experience their benefits.

He observed that the 21st century India belongs to wealth and job creators and innovators, who are the country's true strength. The government has been promoting them for the last eight years.

"The path of startup and innovation is not the one with ease, and taking the country on this path for the last eight years was also not easy. Several decisions and reforms may be unpleasant temporarily, but with time their benefits can be experienced by the country," Modi said.

Modi's comments came in the backdrop of widespread protests against 'Agnipath,' the new army recruitment scheme announced by the Centre.

Road and rail traffic was partially affected in some regions on Monday during a 'Bharat bandh' called against the Agnipath military recruitment scheme, while protests appeared to taper off in many states, with authorities stepping up security and imposing curbs after days of unrest.

The Army issued a notification for compulsory online registration of all Agnipath job aspirants from July, as the Centre appeared firm on implementing the scheme despite the Congress and other opposition parties upping the ante against the Modi government and the BJP.

The Railways cancelled 529 trains as operations remained disrupted due to the protests. These included 181 mail/express trains and 348 passengers trains, the Railways said in a statement. Authorities said that the bandh call was given on social media and did not name the organisations behind it. BJP's spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi said that Congress leaders have made numerous objectionable remarks against PM Modi and that the latter has neither taken any action against the said remarks nor expelled anyone from the party for their actions.

The heavy criticism comes after former minister of tourism and senior Congress leader Kant Sahai alleged that Prime Minister Modi is behaving like Adolf Hitler and "will die like Hitler" if he follows the path of the German dictator. The Congress party, however, has distanced itself from Sahai's remarks and said that it does not endorse the said statements against the Prime Minister. "Congress has damaged its own reputation. In the 136 years of its existence, Congress is in its worst era.

They have not been able to exceed the mark of 100 seats (in Lok Sabha) two consecutive times. It stood somewhere near 50 seats. Congress's previous leadership stood as Hero or Villain. Now it has become the butt of the joke," Trivedi said. Massive traffic jams were witnessed on Delhi roads as restrictions were in place due to the bandh and the Satyagraha protest by Congress over the Centre's Agnipath scheme and the questioning of Rahul Gandhi by the Enforcement Directorate.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, party's leader in the Lok Sabha Adir Ranjan Chowdhury, senior leaders Sachin Pilot, Salman Khurshid, Mallikarjun Kharge and KC Venugopal took part in the protest at the Jantar Mantar.

Commuters from Noida and Gurugram were left hassled as they battled traffic snarls while driving into the city whereas inside the capital, Lutyens' Delhi, which was the epicentre of protests, remained chock-a-block. While the strike call choked traffic on several arterial roads, no impact was seen in the city's markets where it was business as usual.

There was a heavy deployment of police at railway stations, including those in Ambala, Rewari and Sonipat in Haryana and Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar in Punjab to prevent any untoward incident, they said. Protests were reported in some parts of Haryana, Punjab and Jammu.

"Bharat Bandh call was given on social media though no group had owned it. The police were on alert since Monday morning with elaborate arrangements being made with vast deployment of the force," Uttar Pradesh Additional Director General of Police (law and order) Prashant Kumar said.

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