Ex-servicemen to take One Rank One Pension battle to poll-bound Bihar
New Delhi: Determined to mount further pressure on the Modi government, ex-servicemen have decided to hold a huge rally in Bihar ahead of the Assembly elections to demand the "promised due" of 'One Rank One Pension'.
The decision came even as groups of ex-servicemen went on a relay hunger strike in about 20 cities across the country.
"We will hold our next maha sangram rally in Bihar. We will continue our protest till our legitimate and promised due of OROP is met," Col Anil Kaul (Retd), media advisor to to Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM) said.
Assembly polls in Bihar are likely in September/October this year. BJP has a tough fight on hand against the JD(U)/RJD/Congress/NCP combine.
Besides Bihar, the veterans think they are a strong constituency also in Punjab where Assembly elections are slated next year.
The Modi government has said it is committed to OROP, a key promise made during Lok Sabha poll. It has, however, not implemented it till now.
In his recent 'Mann Ki Baat' radio talk, Modi had assured ex-servicemen that his government would soon resolve the OROP issue, but that has not happened, the former soldiers lamented.
Asked if the government has ditched them, IESM Chairman Maj Gen Satbir Singh (Retd) said, "The question is about honoring the assurances and so far those have been not implemented on the ground. That's why we feel the government has not lived up to what they promised us."
Even though the government has said it is committed to implementing OROP, there has been no official word on why the scheme is getting delayed.
Defence ministry sources said the OROP file is with the Finance Ministry for a final budgetary approval.
Close to 22 lakh ex-servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be the immediate beneficiaries of the scheme, which envisages a uniform pension for the defence personnel who retire in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.
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.