NEW DELHI: In a first setback to the ex-servicemen movement, that virtually forced the government to implement the four-decade long demand of One Rank One Pension scheme, the umbrella organisation leading the agitation split on Wednesday evening.
The Indian Ex-Servicemen League, one of the key players of the movement, has disassociated itself from the movement citing ‘lack of cohesiveness’ and suggesting politicisation of the movement. Speaking to Express, Lt. General (Retd) Balbir Singh, president of the Indian Ex-Servicemen League, who was the key negotiator with govt from ex-servicemen community along with Major General Satbir Singh, said that the movement achieved its goal.
“Our movement was purely apolitical. And now the government has delivered OROP, there is no point in continuing it further. My state units from Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana have decided to leave the movement,” Lt. General Balbir singh said.
Around 40 different associations of ex-servicemen were jointly agitating under the umbrella organisation of United Front of ex-servicemen movement here in Delhi for OROP.
Singh said that the Indian Ex-Servicemen League, one of the oldest and largest ex-servicemen union was formed in the year 1968. “We have informed the United Front of Ex-Servicemen Movement (UFESM) about our decision to withdraw from the grouping. The movement is no longer cohesive,” he said. Singh’s decision to leave the movement will have an impact on September 12 mega rally planned by the Ex-servicemen on Saturday at Jantar Mantar in the capital.
He claimed that his group has about 4.5 lakh members and none from his side would be participating in the rally. Altogether, there are around 26 lakh ex-servicemen. He said constitution of his organisation maintains that its activities will be apolitical “but with rally being planned in Bihar, we felt this is against our own constitution”.
“I withdrew myself from the movement because I believe if a rally has to be organised, it should be only after notification from the government on OROP comes out. Protests can continue after that if need be. Meanwhile, our grievances against the OROP announced by the government should be pursued before the one-man judicial commission that will be set up,” Balbir Singh added. Meanwhile, undeterred by the withdrawal, UFESM said the rally will go on. Group Captain, General Secretary of the UFESM told Express that it is an attempt to divide their movement. “Despite Lt. General Balbir Singh’s withdrawal from the movement, we will continue with the planned rally,” Gandhi told Express.