NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was in favour of granting 'One Rank, One Pension' (OROP) to ex-servicemen but pressure was exerted on him by his cabinet colleagues on the issue, legal luminary Ram Jethmalani today claimed even as he launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Jethmalani, a supporter-turned-critic of Modi and a former BJP leader, said apart from failing to deliver on his electoral promise of bringing back black money stashed abroad, Modi has not been able to deliver on the OROP issue. Ex-servicemen have been staging protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi for the past 176 days demanding OROP. "There is no other person better than the Defence Minister (Parrikar) to give OROP as he was in favour of our demand. But ultimately he was pressurised by corrupt people in Cabinet.
"The government has reduced OROP to writing. I am ashamed to say that after having committed to give OROP, the Prime Minister says that he has not understood the issue," the noted lawyer said at a press conference organised by ex-servicemen at Jantar Mantar. When asked about the agitation's future course of action, Jethmalani, who is giving legal support to the movement, refused to elaborate further. "There is no need to go to court. The Bihar electoral lesson has taught him a lesson and Modi is not ready for any such defeats. I am not going to spell out my legal strategy," he said.
Jethmalani, who has been a vocal critic of the government over the black money issue, also claimed that Germany had a list of around 1,400 names, majority of which were Indians, but the government did not approach the country for the list. "The Germans say India is yet to approach them for the list," he said.
Meanwhile, the protesting veterans have announced a 'Sainik Akrosh Rally' at Jantar Mantar on December 13 to press their demand for implementation of OROP. The United Front of Ex-Servicemen (UFESM), an umbrella organisation spearheading the protest, has also recommended Justice R M Lodha to chair the one-man judicial commission to look into the concerns of the veterans.
The government came out with a notification on OROP on November 7 but the veterans still remain unsatisfied. They have demanded that OROP should be implemented from April 1, 2014 and not July 1, 2015 as in the government notification. "OROP principle is in perpetuity and cannot be fiddled with. The Seventh Central Pay Commission is over and above the OROP.
"Soldiers taking pre-mature retirement after November 7 will not be entitled for the OROP, which is not good for the armed forces as this will result in old army and a war cannot be fought with army of old soldiers. This clause should be removed," Major General (retd.) Satbir Singh, Chairman of UFESM, said.