Government playing with sentiments of ex-servicemen: Congress

New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) A day after ex-servicemen said they would continue their protest over issues related to the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme, the Congress on Monday accused the central government of “playing with the sentiments of armed forces pensioners”.

The party demanded that the government should clarify whether the OROP had been extended to those who sought premature retirement without medical reasons or due to incapacity to serve.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi told media persons here that important issues vis-a-vis the OROP were deliberately kept ambiguous.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi should stop playing with the sentiments of our veterans, leave the policy of unilateral decision-making and engage with them to find a permanent solution to the issues affecting OROP,” he said.

The government was speaking in different voices on the OROP, the Congress leader said.

He said the then United Progressive Alliance government had agreed for continuous automatic revision of pension but now the ex-servicemen were offered such revision after five years as against their demand for revision after every two years.

“Their demand for review of pension on yearly or even biennial basis remains,” the Congress leader said.

He said the judicial committee appointed by the central government on the issue should have representation of ex-servicemen.

Singhvi said the ex-servicemen had also demanded that pension should not be calculated on average pension formula but as per the highest salary drawn.

Modi said at a rally in Faridabad on Sunday that soldiers who retired prematurely would benefit from the implementation of the OROP scheme.

The prime minister said those trying to mislead on the issue of voluntary retirement scheme were committing a wrong.

Modi said around 80 percent of the OROP benefits would be available to soldiers of junior ranks.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Saturday announced the implementation of OROP but said that “personnel who voluntarily retire will not be covered under the OROP scheme”. He later clarified that the clause on voluntary retirement would be removed.

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