Modi govt may roll out OROP before Bihar polls

RSTV Bureau

OROP-strikeNarendra Modi government is expected to roll out ‘One Rank One Pension’ (OROP) policy, a long pending and now an emotive issue among the ex-servicemen ahead of the Assembly polls in Bihar later this year. Top government sources told a news agency that the Union government is working out the modalities for OROP implementation and the announcement will be made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi once it is finalised.

Tentatively, it is slated for just before the assembly polls in Bihar where BJP is facing a stiff challenge by the incumbent Nitish Kumar government. And for BJP, the possibility of a joint party front called ‘Janata Parivaar’ has only enhanced the challenge further.

“It (OROP) is being worked out. We will need to have a separate category so that it cannot be legally challenged later on and nor do others stake claim. This would be separate from other government pensions,” the top sources said.

Asked when it will be rolled out, the sources indicated that the scheme is likely to be announced ahead of Bihar election if all modalities are worked out timely.

Meanwhile, in order to put further pressure on PM Modi government, the ex-servicemen have decided to hold a huge rally in Bihar ahead of the Assembly polls to demand the “promised due” of ‘One Rank One Pension’.

With Central government keeping the implementation of policy pending, several groups of ex-servicemen began their nationwide stir on Sunday at Jantar Mantar. And since Monday now, the group has begun sitting on a relay hunger strike in the batches to put further pressure on the Centre to implement the policy. During the campaign for 2014 general polls, the ruling party BJP and PM Modi in particular had promised a speedy implementation of the policy once voted to power. But with more than year of Modi government, the policy is yet to see the light of the day.

Even though the government and the Defence ministry had on several occasions insisted that it is committed to implement OROP, there has been no official word on why the scheme is getting delayed.

Earlier in his eighth installment of ‘Mann Ki Baat’ radio talk, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had assured ex-servicemen that his government would soon resolve the OROP issue.

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)