Even as the resolution continues to evade the prevailing impasse over the issue of ‘One Rank One Pension’ (OROP), Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley made a pitch for a “reasonable” and “rational” approach to the problem. The senior BJP leader and among the senior-most in the Union cabinet, Mr. Jaitley opined that the defence personnel retiring at an early age of 35-38 years should get higher pension but the same principle cannot be applied to those superannuating at 60-62 years.
“There is a consensus in the country that we should have special concern for armymen who make sacrifices for the country and retire at young age of 35-38 years. There are many who retire at 60-62 years, and are like any other government official superannuating…These soldiers retiring at early age should get special advantage and the others may also get the benefit,” Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday.
Though he didn’t set any time frame for the implementation but reiterated that Narendra Modi government is committed to the principle of OROP. The Union Finance minister once again said that the Prime Minister has promised that it will be implemented.
Arun Jaitley’s latest comments on the emotive issue came just a day after he had virtually ruled out annual revision of the pension under the OROP, drawing sharp remarks from the striking ex-servicemen.
“I have my own formula on what OROP means. Somebody else may have their own formula on OROP but it has to be within reasonable and rational criteria. You can’t have an OROP where pensions are revised every month or every year,” Mr. Jaitley had said on Monday.
The remarks were criticised by the veterans who have been sitting on a protest at Jantar Mantar in the capital for nearly three months now.
“It seems that Mr Jaitley has no knowledge about the issue. I dare say, if he wants to understand the issue, I can explain it to him. He has never understood the issue because of which he has made this statement,” Major Gen (retd) Satbir Singh said in response to the Union minister’s remarks.
The group of ex-servicemen demanding the quick implementation of OROP have been sitting on a relay hunger strike, with twelve of them opting for the fast-unto-death. As the protest by the ex-servicemen enters its 81st day, the time window before the government may not be big as some of the veterans have been admitted to the hospital after the dip in their health.
Earlier too, many ex-chief of the three services had separately written to the President and the Prime Minister seeking their direct intervention to resolve the issue.
(With inputs from the PTI)