Kolkata: Firing a fresh salvo at the NDA Government over the one-rank, one-pension (OROP) scheme, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said soldiers and ex-servicemen are suffering and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is busy doing yoga. “Before the elections, Modi ji went to Haryana, Punjab, and said OROP will be done immediately when they will come to power,” said Gandhi while addressing his party workers at the Netaji Indoor Stadium in Kolkata. “It has been one year now. The soldiers are crying and threatening to launch an agitation. They are asking the government to disclose as to when the OROP would be implemented…..Modi ji says I am busy doing yoga, ask me later,” he added.
The Congress vice-president had earlier in May said that he would ‘pressurise’ the Centre to act on the one-rank, one-pension issue at the earliest. Gandhi, who met a delegation from the ex-servicemen cell of the party, said the UPA regime had made provisions for the scheme and had even allocated the money but the government failed to implement it. The Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM), a leading association of retired military personnel, has said that they would agitate and call for a hunger strike, if their demands for one-rank, one-pension are not met. Officials of the IESM announced their plans to launch an agitation after a meeting with Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to discuss the OROP issue ended inconclusively.
Major General (retired) Satbir Singh, who is the vice-chairman of IESM, said that their meeting with the Defence Minister was inconclusive. He said they will hold a rally at the Jantar Mantar from June 14 and will begin the hunger strike from June 15. “The Chief of Army Staff had told us to meet the Defence Minister before holding a meeting. We, the members of Indian Ex-servicemen movement (IESM), met the Defence Minister. He told us that the ministry is working on it (OROP). We will meet him again, once it is finalized and the date is given to us, we will inform the rest,” Major General (retired) Singh said. “If it does not happen, then we will begin an agitation from June 14, we will hold a rally at Jantar Mantar. We will begin a hunger strike from 15th onwards,” he added.
The NDA Government at the Centre has drawn flak from various political parties, especially from the Congress, over the delay in implementing the OROP scheme. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing the nation in his eighth edition of the ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme, had assured ex-servicemen that his government would soon resolve the OROP issue.
The OROP scheme has been a long-standing demand of ex-servicemen’s associations and relates to payment of uniform pension to defence forces personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.