BJP-led Union government once again assured its commitment on One Rank One Pension (OROP) but failed to announce the date of its roll-out. On a day when the Delhi police and civic authorities attempted to evict the ex-servicemen and war veterans from protesting at Jantar Mantar, Modi government claimed “technical difficulties” in implementing OROP but once again lent an “assurance” on the issue.
“We will fulfil the assurances that we have given in this regard… When we have said this, the government has to do it within its tenure and we will do it quite early. We are bound by our assurance. We will comply with our assurance,” Union Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar told the press on Friday.
He added that “there are technical difficulties” in implementing OROP but didn’t elaborate further.
Slowly turning an emotive and the matter of honour for the ex-servicemen, BJP-led NDA government has now begun to face criticism due to delay in its implementation. And now even the Opposition parties have begun to seek answers from the government.
“The Prime Minister had promised that he will implement the OROP… the Prime Minister must give a date now,” Congress vice President Rahul Gandhi said while meeting the agitating ex-servicemen at Jantar Mantar who earlier in the day resisted eviction from the authorities in the wake of Independence Day arrangements.
“The Prime Minister made a promise over OROP and now he just has to say one line, that I will get this work done by this date,” Gandhi added.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal too “urged” the Prime Minister to accept the demands of agitating ex-soldiers.
“I would urge Hon’ble PM to announce acceptance of the demand of OROP of our ex servicemen from Red Fort tomorrow,” Kejriwal wrote on the micro-blogging site Twitter.
For the last two months several ex-servicemen, many of them senior citizens, have been sitting on a protest observing relay-hunger strike demanding the implementation of OROP.
The issue of OROP assumes political dimensions for the incumbent government as PM Narendra Modi had made its implementation among his key agendas while campaigning for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. And after taking over as the Prime Minister, Mr. Modi had even assured ex-servicemen on his radio talk show ‘Mann ki Baat’ that his government would soon implement the OROP policy.
The policy of OROP, if implemented, will enable a uniform pension for the defence personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement. Close to 22 lakh ex-servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be the immediate beneficiaries of the scheme.
Currently, the pension for retired personnel is based on the Pay Commission recommendations of the time when he or she retired. So, a Major General who retired in 1996 draws a lower pension than a Lieutenant Colonel who retired after 1996.
(With inputs from the PTI)