“Com­mit­ted to OROP,’ Says PM at Red Fort; Up­set Vet­er­ans De­mand a Date

Bhutan Times - - Editorial -

NEW DELHI: Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi ac­knowl­edged in his In­de­pen­dence Day ad­dress at the Red Fort to­day that he is yet to reach a res­o­lu­tion on the One Rank One Pen­sion de­mand of ex-ser­vice­men, but promised that his gov­ern­ment had “ac­cepted OROP in prin­ci­ple.”

Not far from where he ad­dressed the na­tion, ex-ser­vice­men sit­ting on a re­lay hunger strike at Jan­tar Man­tar, the des­ig­nated site for protests, watched the PM’s speech keenly on a large TV screen. They switched it off the mo­ment his brief OROP men­tion ended and said they “re­ject the PM’s speech”.

An an­nounce­ment on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of One Rank One Pen­sion or OROP was ex­pected to be the cen­tre­piece of the PM’s ad­dress. But talks be­tween ex-ser­vice­men and the gov­ern­ment got stuck at the last minute on what the PM to­day called “nitty gritty de­tails”.

“It has been stuck for 20 years... OROP was con­sid­ered by all gov­ern­ments, but there is no res­o­lu­tion yet. Even I haven’t been able to solve it yet,” the PM said at the end of his 90minute ad­dress.

But he promised, “Let me as­sure all vet­er­ans... we are com­mit­ted and we are in the fi­nal stages of de­cid­ing.”

“PM says Team In­dia , Team In­dia. Are we not Team In­dia?” asked an an­gry army vet­eran, re­fer­ring to the term the Prime Min­is­ter used re­peat­edly in his speech this morn­ing to em­pha- sise col­lec­tive power.

An 80-year-old pro­tester said, “This is a di­rect in­sult.” The vet­er­ans said they want a date an­nounced for OROP

For­mer Army of­fi­cers and sol­diers want the same pen­sion as those of the same rank who are re­tir­ing now. Right now, a soldier who re­tired many years ago is paid far less than some­one sev­eral ranks ju­nior to him re­tir­ing now.

The vet­er­ans want pen­sions bench­marked at the 2014 rates and re­ject the gov­ern­ment of­fer of 2011 rates. Gov­ern­ment sources say that will mean bud­get­ing Rs. 20,000 crore for OROP rather than the Rs. 8,000 crore that it is oth­er­wise ex­pected to cost.

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi ad­dresses the na­tion on In­dia’s 69th In­de­pen­dence Day (Agence France-Presse photo)

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