New Delhi: Coming under fire from the BJP over Rahul Gandhi’s conversation with ex-servicemen in Ladakh on the issue of ‘one rank, one pension’ (OROP), the Congress on Saturday attacked the Central government over the manner in which the OROP was implemented.
The Congress said that had it (OROP implementation) been done in accordance with the letter and spirit of the notification issued during the UPA dispensation, “large scale anomalies” wouldn’t have crept in.
In a statement, Congress’ Ex-Servicemen Department chief Col (retd) Rohit Chaudhry said that last month Rahul Gandhi drove across Ladakh on a motorcycle, meeting people from all sections of society including ex-servicemen.
Since he had not been able to cover Ladakh during the Bharat Jodo Yatra, Rahul Gandhi decided to undertake a separate journey. “This is the first time a national leader has covered Ladakh so extensively, and it has sent a strong signal to the Chinese that Ladakh is an integral and inseparable part of India,” Chaudhry said.
“In a conversation with ex-servicemen, they told him (Rahul Gandhi) how wrongly OROP has been implemented, and how the Agnipath scheme is harming the safety security and integrity of the nation and also destroying the future of the youth,” he said.
He further said that after completion of four years, Agniveers “will neither get any pension nor other benefits and instead, they will again become unemployed”.
Chaudhary argued that the employability restrictions imposed on the Agniveers “will affect the operational effectiveness of the units and will simultaneously burden the regular soldiers”.
“Rahul Gandhi’s interaction with ESMs further amplified that OROP, which is equally applicable to all the defence veterans (officers, JCOs and Other Ranks), has not been implemented as envisaged by the UPA govt’s order of February 26, 2014, which was passed by both Houses of the Parliament,” he said.
“The present form of OROP-1 and 2 is not the actual OROP conceptualised under the UPA regime, but is a ‘one rank and many persons’,” Chaudhry added.
“Had OROP been implemented in letter and spirit of UPA’s notification, then large-scale anomalies induced in implementation wouldn’t have cropped in. While issuing orders for passing OROP-2 on 23 December 2022, under sustained pressure of Bharat Jodo Yatra which was entering Delhi, the Narendra Modi government induced further anomalies by reducing pensions of JCOS and other ranks by a few thousand per month,” he said.
He pointed out that though no one has got actual OROP, whatever benefits have been passed, they are lesser for JCOS and ORS as per their legitimate right. “Passing of the reduced benefits, to JCOs and Other Ranks, is causing large-scale heartburn among junior cadres of the defence fraternity which has created a divide among cadres and is not good for the country’s defence forces.”
The Congress demands from the Modi government that “OROP anomalies” should be corrected immediately without any further delay, Chaudhry said.
It is the Central government which is causing a divide and it is the responsibility of the government to correct its “follies”, he said.