New Delhi, Sep 5 (IANS) Political parties began their blame game on Saturday soon after the government announced implementation of the ‘One Rank One Pension’ (OROP) scheme for ex-servicemen, with the ruling BJP calling it a “historic decision” while the Congress termed it “totally disappointing”.
“The (Narendra) Modi government has substantially diluted the provisions of the OROP announced by the UPA (Congress-led United Progressive Alliance). Today’s (Saturday) announcement about OROP by the defence minister is totally disappointing,” Congress leader and former defence minister A.K. Antony told the media here.
Antony’s remarks came soon after Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar made the announcement in the presence of army chief General Dalbir Singh, navy chief Admiral R.K. Dhowan, air force chief Air Chief Marshal Aroop Raha and Defence Secretary G. Mohan Kumar.
“Today’s claims by the defence minister that the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government is for the first time accepting the long standing demand… I don’t know what language to use. We had already accepted in toto the demand for OROP and were in the process of implementing it,” Antony said.
“They (the government) have ridiculed the ex-servicemen as well as the whole country,” the Congress leader said.
Antony also accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of politicising the issue, saying the defence minister used the occasion of announcing OROP to criticise the previous UPA government.
While announcing OROP, Parrikar said: “It is a matter of deep anguish that the various governments remained ambivalent on the issue of OROP, which was pending for nearly four decades.”
In no time, the BJP refuted the Congress accusation.
“It is the Congress’s passion to criticise the government for everything, forgetting that they have not been able to fulfill this responsibility while in power,” union minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said here.
“Ten years in office is not an ordinary time, what have they done? They just make announcements,” he added.
The BJP termed the decision “historic” and credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the decision.
BJP president Amit Shah thanked the Modi government for the OROP implementation, saying it will provide a financial security net to defence personnel.
“We have not just fulfilled the promise but implemented it as well. The Modi government has provided the retired and serving servicemen a financial security net,” Shah told reporters.
The party said the Modi government had honoured the soldiers of the country.
“We welcome the decision. It is a historic decision,” BJP general secretary Anil Jain said here.
“The Congress had deceived the ex-servicemen on OROP for decades. It was the Modi government which honoured them by implementing the scheme,” he said. “Earlier governments had made the OROP scheme complicated.”
Soon after the announcement, members of the BJP’s ex-serviceman cell took out a march from India Gate to Shah’s residence and thanked him for the announcement.
The government on Saturday decided to implement the OROP scheme for veterans.
The pension would be re-fixed every five years and the scheme will be with effect from July 1, 2014.
But the ex-servicemen said they were not “fully satisfied” with the government’s decision.
Maj. Gen. Satbir Singh (retd), who is spearheading the campaign for OROP, said they will take a decision later on whether to continue with the agitation for implementation of the scheme.
The veterans have been protesting at Jantar Mantar for nearly three months to demand implementation of the OROP scheme. They said they would step up their protest if their demand was not met.