In the rush to take credit for the government’s acceptance of the ‘one rank, one pension’ demand for defence personnel, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi did not want to be left behind.
He called the media over to an unusual venue - his mother, Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s official residence at 10 Janpath - for a quick thanksgiving.
Though he was the last to take up the cause of the retired servicemen, Rahul was obviously the most important intervention that proved unavoidable for the government. The Prime Minister or the Finance Minister could hardly have overlooked his request, given the political backing he currently enjoys in the party.
Presenting the interim budget on Monday, Finance Minister P Chidambaram had said that the
government would transfer `500 crore to the defence pension account for implementing ‘one rank, one pension’ scheme, benefitting around three million pensioners from fiscal 2014-2015.
Meanwhile, in his blink-and-miss appearance, Rahul made sure that he used the opportunity to the hilt by making the right noises. “It would act as a booster for the soldiers who guard our borders,” he said.
Reminding everyone of the role he played, Rahul said, “a number of delegations have met me on the issue (one-rank, one-pension) in last many days. All of them said it was very necessary. Our forces are always ready to fight for the nation and people... It is our duty to provide them all support.”
Showering praises on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Congress President, he said, “Our government is fully behind them. They always stand behind the Nation.”
The move also ensured that he stole the thunder from BJP’s Young Turk Anurag Thakur’s post on the Twitter claiming credit for raising the demand first. Thakur had claimed that he had made the demand first in Himachal Pradesh while his father Prem Kumar Dhumal was the Chief Minister of the State.