The One Rank, One Pension (OROP) implementation delay has led to protests by ex-servicemen on Sunday demanding implementation of the policy that was approved by the Congress government, assured by PM candidate Narendra Modi in 2013, but failed to figure in the Budget allocation this year.
The sensitive implentation of OROP entails uniform pension benefits for those defence personnel who retired in the same rank with the same service term, irrespective of their date of retirement.
More than the fiscal feasibility, the OROP had become an electioneering issue until 2014 and just before the elections, the Congress approved it hoping to reap benefits in the form of votes in return but the BJP weaned them away promising immediate implementation of it. But once in power, the Modi government realised the huge burden on the exchequer and dilly-dallied over its implementation this year, possibly postponing it to next year’s budget.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday reiterated the promise to implement it soon not specifying when but appealed to the ex-servicemen to be patinet. “I assure you whatever we have promised that all would be done. but some people need to be patient,” Parrikar said addressing a conference in Jaipur on border safety.
Nearly 22 lakh ex-servicemen and about six lakh war widows will benefit from the OROP policy implementation. Otherwise, the current policy entails those who retired after 1996 to draw more pension than those who retired before, though rank is the same say a Lieutenant Colonel.
“Modi has assured us that it will be implemented, but it has been one year,” said a retired Colonel Anil Kaul, who is the media adviser to Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM) that is sprearheading the protest in New Delhi at Jantar Mantar. Sunday witnesssed protests ll over the country from Punjab, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra to Uttar Pradesh, in 50 cities, he said.
“The Prime Minister’s voice still echoes in our minds when he roared at the ex-servicemen rally on September 15, 2013, in Rewari and demanded a white paper on OROP from the UPA Government. He did not stop there, but declared that had there been BJP government in 2004, OROP would have been reality by now,” said ISEM in a statement.
“Ex-servicemen all over India not only voted for Modi but as they also were the opinion makers in rural India where a majority of the defence personnel reside. Consequently BJP received an unprecedented mandate,” it said.