Raebareli/Lucknow (UP), Jul 10: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday met Kirti Chakra recipient Captain Anshuman Singh's mother, who later spoke against the Agnipath scheme and urged the government not to divide the Army into two categories.

Her appeal comes amid Gandhi raising questions on the Agnipath scheme and claiming that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh "lied" in Parliament about the issue of compensation to the families of martyred Agniveers.

"I request the government not to divide the Army into two categories," the late captain's mother Manju Singh told reporters after Gandhi met her at a guesthouse in Raebareli.

The four-year job role is not appropriate as Agniveers who are let go would struggle to find another suitable career, she said while raising apprehension on the Army scheme launched in 2022 for short-term recruitment of jawans.

"They (Agniveers) will be mentally and physically weak after four years after which they would be unable to pursue their studies... this is not good," she added.

Her son was posthumously conferred the Kirti Chakra, India's second-highest peacetime gallantry award, by President Droupadi Murmu on July 5 during an investiture ceremony.

Capt Singh died while rescuing people from a major fire in July last year.

While he was returning to Delhi, Gandhi was asked about his meeting with the Army officer's mother. He said he will speak about the matter in Parliament.

Gandhi had called the martyr's family, which resides in Lucknow, to meet them at the guest house.

After meeting the Congress leader, the late captain's mother told reporters that Gandhi assured all possible support to their family.

"Gandhi said that he requested the government to end the Agniveer scheme as it is not appropriate for the Army," she said.

During his Raebareli visit, Gandhi, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, also visited the AIIMS there and met party workers and local residents of his constituency.

After landing at the Chaudhary Charan Singh Airport in Lucknow, Gandhi left by road for Raebareli, which is about 80 km from the state capital. Party workers and leaders were at the Lucknow airport to give a warm send off to Rahul Gandhi.

On the way to Raebareli, he stopped at Churwa temple near Bachhrawan and paid obeisance to Lord Hanuman.

"Rahul Gandhi worshipped at the Churwa Hanuman temple and prayed to Lord Hanuman for the happiness, peace and prosperity of the country," the Congress party said on X.

Gandhi reached the Bohemian guest house, where he met party workers, delegations including that of Indian Industries Association (IIA) and locals, a local party leader said.

He also visited the martyrs' memorial in Lalganj and laid a wreath there and planted a sapling. He also visited AIIMS-Raebareli.

In the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, Gandhi won from the Rae Bareli Lok Sabha seat by a margin of more than 3.90 lakh votes.

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New Delhi, Jul 22: The government on Monday cited an inter-ministerial group report prepared in 2012 to assert that a case for granting special category status to Bihar is not made out; a stand which came a day after BJP's allies from Bihar demanded the status for the backward state.

In a written reply in the Lok Sabha on the first day of the Monsoon session, Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary said special category status was granted in the past by the National Development Council (NDC) to some states which were characterised by a number of features necessitating special consideration.

These included hilly and difficult terrain, low population density or sizeable share of tribal population, strategic location along borders with neighbouring countries, economic and infrastructural backwardness and non-viable nature of state finances, he said in reply to a question asked by JD(U) member Rampreet Mandal.

The decision was taken based on an integrated consideration of all the factors listed above and the peculiar situation of a state, the minister said.

"Earlier, the request of Bihar for Special Category Status was considered by an Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) which submitted its Report on 30th March 2012. The IMG came to the finding that based on existing NDC criteria, the case for Special Category Status for Bihar is not made out," the minister said.

The Congress-led UPA was in power at the time.

JD(U) leader Sanjay Kumar Jha had voiced his party's demand for the status at an all-party meeting on Sunday. The Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas), also a BJP ally, and the opposition RJD echoed the same demand at the meeting.

The JD(U), though, has already conveyed to the Centre that it is willing to settle for a special financial package in case the status cannot be granted to the state.

The BJD and the YSR Congress had made the same demand for Odisha and Andhra Pradesh respectively in the meeting.

The government has in the past also argued that the 14th Finance Commission report has ruled out the possibility of any more states being granted the status, which includes tax relief and higher central funding for the beneficiary states.