Much to the disappointment of protesting ex-servicemen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today did not give a specific timeline for the implementation of ‘One Rank One Pension’, even as he stressed that talks were in final stages to work out the nitty-gritty.
He reiterated that the government has in-principle accepted the demand for OROP.
Terming the soldiers as a strength, treasure and energy of the country, Modi accepted that despite his coming to power, the solution for the long-delayed OROP issue has not been found yet.
Pointing out that many governments have come and gone for years and the OROP issue came before each one of them, Modi said the OROP has been in-principle accepted by his government but talk are still on with various stakeholders.
“Every government has even given small promises but the issue has not been resolved. Even after I came, I have not been able to do it till now. Today, I am assuring my soldiers once again… in-principle OROP has been accepted by us but talks with stakeholders are on,” he said in his Independence Day address.
Modi stressed, it was not just him promising but the 1.25 crore people strong ‘Team India’ under the shadow of the tricolour, from the ramparts of the Lal Qila.
He said that the issue has reached the last stages and the aim is complete development of country and justice to all.
“A solution has to be found for an issue which has been lingering for 20-25 years. I expect good news seeing the way the talks are going on. And that is why I again promise that in-principle, this government has accepted OROP,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that talks are being held with the stakeholders to work out the nitty-gritty and modalities.
“We have to move forward by talking,” he said.
However, the protesting ex-servicemen reacted sharply.
“I am sorry, principle was accepted 17 months ago and he has also accepted it. I want to ask the Prime Minister, what is holding the implementation of OROP,” questioned Maj Gen Satbir Singh (Retd), Chairman of Indian Ex-Servicemen movement. “According to us, there is nothing but bad intention of the bureaucracy and it is given to them by the political system which is holding it now,” Singh said.
Asked what will be the next course of action as they have been protesting for over two months, he said, “Our core committee will sit and decide”.
The protesters had put up a large LCD screen at Jantar Mantar to watch Modi’s speech. However, as soon as they realised that Modi has not announced OROP, they switched it off.
“I am ashamed of the PM. We want the OROP without any dilution. What talks, when and how long. Where is Gen VK Singh, where is CoL Rathore? Why haven’t they resigned?,” said Deepa Neb, daughter and wife of a retired defence personnel.
“Time and again, Modi has been saying Team India, actually Team India today has failed the real Team India. Are we not part of Team India,” a retired Brigadier asked.
A day after Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi got cold response from the protesting retired servicemen, chairman of Indian Ex-servicemen Movement, Maj Gen (retd) Satbir Singh said they did not seek sympathy from political leaders.
“We don’t want any political leader to come here and show sympathy. If the leaders, who are from Army background, want to join our protest we welcome them all, there are six of them in the government but none of them have visited us yet,” Singh said.
Retired Wing Commander K S Parihar said,”If it was a matter of three to four years… it’s understood that it takes time. But does it take 43 years to work it out? The promises are hollow.”
“Every time when police cannot handle the agitation they call for the Army, when there is an earthquake they call for the Army because their civil administration and so called para-military is unable to handle and they are avoiding giving One Rank One Pension to that army only, that is very disappointing,” he said.
Agitated ex-servicemen wore black arm bands and head bands as a sign of protest.