New Delhi: Criticising Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi for making the One Rank, One Pension (OROP) scheme a subject to “partisan politics”, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has asked the former to check his facts while questioning on the implementation of the scheme.
“We would like to say that Rahul Gandhi needs to do his homework rather well. But the fundamental issue is he should not make the welfare of armed forces a partisan issue,” Prasad told ANI.
The Law minister asserted that OROP has been given by the Narendra Modi government amounting to more than Rs. 10,000 crores while adding that the whole architecture is now in place for similar slab rate of pension which is in tune with the recommendations of the seventh pay commission.
“The government has referred to anomaly committee and no decision has been taken,” Prasad added.
Responding to the Rahul’s charge accusing the government of downgrading the status of military officers with regards to their civilian counterparts, Prasad said , ” Since 1998-99 including the Manmohan Singh government, no new policy decision has been taken to change it, therefore I would urge Rahul Gandhi that at least please don’t do partisan politics on Armed force issues.”
Addressing a letter to Prime Minister Modi, Rahul Gandhi asserted that decisions taken over the last few weeks by the government have adversely affect the morale of the armed forces, adding that it was the government’s duty to show the soldiers, who risk their lives each day to defend the nation, that they are cared for.
“Just days after our soldiers conducted the surgical strikes, the disability pension system was converted to a new slab system, that in many instances drastically reduces the pension received by these brave men in case of a disability. The roll out of the 7th Pay Commission continues to keep our defence forces at a disadvantage and further exacerbates the disparity between them and civil employees,” the letter read.
Further accusing the government of downgrading the status of military officers vis a vis their civilian counterparts in a letter dated 18th October 2016, Rahul stated that the OROP implemented by the government, does not fully meet the genuine demands of the ex-servicemen and they have been forced to come out on the streets to make their voice heard on this vital issue.
“As a responsible democracy we must make sure that the brave soldiers who put their lives on the line for each one of us, feel the love, support and gratitude of 125 crore people. I therefore urge you Prime Minister to ensure that our soldiers get their due whether it is regarding compensation, disability pension, or parity with civil employees,” he said.
The Congress vice president also emphasised that the anomalies in the 7th Pay Commission must be addressed at the earliest, as soldiers should not have to struggle to claim what is surely due to them on behalf of a grateful nation.