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Congress, BJP spar over OROP

New Delhi:  The OROP announcement today triggered a war of words with the Congress accusing the Modi government of "substantially diluting" its provisions and the BJP hitting back, slamming the opposition party of playing a
PTI September 05, 2015 21:58 IST

New Delhi:  The OROP announcement today triggered a war of words with the Congress accusing the Modi government of "substantially diluting" its provisions and the BJP hitting back, slamming the opposition party of playing a "joke" on ex-servicemen when it was in power.

Former Defence Minister A K Antony charged the government with doing politics over 'One Rank One Pension' (OROP) and "betraying" the veterans.

On the move to keep out of OROP those ex-servicemen who had opted for VRS, he said it was sad because 90 per cent of service personnel retire between 35 to 40 years of age, losing lakhs of rupees.

"There is no comparision of those in Defence forces with those in other services", he told reporters here.
Attacking Congress, BJP President Amit Shah said the pension of ex-servicemen was decreased by its government in the 70s and the allocation of only Rs 500 crore was made for OROP by the previous UPA government.

"In 1973 their pension was reduced from 70 per cent to 50 per cent (of salary) and the demand for OROP has been hanging fire since then... The previous Congress government in its last moments made an allocation of Rs 500 crore for it and this was a joke played on ex-servicemen," Shah said, noting that an additional expenditure of Rs 9,000-10,000 crore annually will go towards it.

Former Union Minister Kapil Sibal said Congress was against the provision of revision of pension every five years announced by the government. He also faulted it for not adhering to the equalisation principle.

Antony took exception to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's remarks that OROP was being implemented for the first time in four decades by his government.

"The Defence Minister is doing politics," he said insisting that UPA government had announced acceptance of OROP last year and had even provided a token amount of Rs 500 crores and constituted an expert committee.

Asked whether government's decision has opened up a Pandora's box as OROP announcement would lead to demands from other central security forces, Sibal said that the party would react only after the Prime Minister makes his stand clear in the matter.

Both Antony and Sibal targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi recalling that he had promised OROP in toto within 100 days of coming to power.

BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma said, "Betrayal is in Congress' nature. It has betrayed the people of the country as well as ex-servicemen all these years. Congress was never serious in implementing OROP and had earmarked only a meagre Rs 500 crore for it, while it will cost Rs 10,000 crore to implement it,"

In tweets, Shah said the "historic" decision is a "big step for the welfare of soldiers; the real life heroes".

"The decision will go a long way in boosting morale of our soldiers and their families," he said.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu vehemently rejected the Congress criticism, asking "Why did the UPA government not do it earlier during their 10-year rule.

It has become a fashion for Congress to criticise whatever this government does.

They are in the habit of announcing everything on eve of election and then leaving it.

"I want to ask them why did you not do it when you were in power. Why did you not do it then even partially? I urge Congress not to politicise the issue. It has no moral right to question the NDA government on the OROP issue," Naidu said.

Naidu said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a very personal interest in resolving the issue.

"It is a very positive step by the government and our tribute to people who are in the forefront of guarding the nation," Naidu said.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah questioned the Centre's claim of implementing the one-rank-one-pension (OROP), saying the veterans have rejected six of the seven announcements.

"If the ex-servicemen are rejecting six out of the Defence Minister's seven announcements, how can the Govt claim to have implemented #OROP?" Omar wrote on micro-blogging site twitter.com.

"Review every five years - rejected. One man commission - rejected, VRS takers omitted - rejected, starting years proposed - rejected. OROP fail," Omar added.