Political war of words erupts over OROP roll-out

Rajat Kain

File Photo ( PTI )

File Photo ( PTI )

Soon after the policy of One Rank One Pension was rolled out by the incumbent Narendra Modi government, the principal Opposition party took them on criticising the provisions rolled-out by the government as “disappointing”. The reaction by the Congress party came shortly after the group of striking ex-servicemen too had rejected certain key provisions of the OROP. However, the veterans had welcomed Modi government’s move to convert the much-awaited policy into a reality.

“The Modi Government has substantially diluted the provisions of the OROP announced by the UPA… This announcement by the Defence Minister is ridiculing the ex servicemen. UPA had already announced OROP in toto,” senior Congress party leader and former Defence Minister AK Antony said.

The former Defence minister in the Congress-led UPA government also took on the incumbent over the issue of UPA only announcing Rs 500 crores for the OROP in its February 2014 interim budget.

“Rs 500 Cr was just a token amount and it was announced by (then) Defence Ministry that substantial increase would be brought in… Today the Defence Minister brought politics in Defence Briefings as he criticised the previous governments,” he said in a presser held at the AICC Headquarters in New Delhi.

The Congress party was especially critical of the government leaving out the large group of veterans from the ambit of OROP, who had taken voluntary retirement (VRS).

“UPA included all the ex servicemen, UPA made no exceptions on those who take voluntary retirement,” another senior Congress leader and former Union Law minister Kapil Sibal said.

OROP-latest-1“These announcements by the government are an insult to the ex servicemen as demand of equalisation of their pension has been rejected… They are playing politics with even veterans,” Kapil Sibal added.

On the other hand, dismissing the opposition’s contention, BJP stepped up its defence over the issue of OROP.

“I thank and welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Defence Minister for a historic decision on OROP. This is a big step for the welfare of our soldiers… the real life heroes,” BJP chief Amit Shah told the press at the party headquarters in New Delhi.

“The decision of the OROP will go a long way in boosting morals of our soldiers and their families,” the BJP chief added.

The ruling party also strongly took on the principal opposition party for its criticism of the incumbent. Questioning the intent of Congress party, Union minister and senior BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu said, “Congress has no moral right to question us on OROP. Why didn’t they approve it even partially?”

“We urge ex-servicemen to stop agitating since their basic demand of OROP has been met,” Venkaiah Naidu said reaching out to the veterans at Jantar Mantar who, though ended their hunger strike, have decided to continue with their agitation.