As ex-servicemen’s protests demanding pension revision entered the 75th day, the deadlock on the issue continued with their rejection of the government’s formula of resolving the One Rank One Pension (OROP) crisis.
“Whatever they have finally offered is not acceptable. What we were told on Thursday is nowhere close to the (OROP) definition that had been decided and accepted in Parliament,” said Maj Gen (retd) Satbir Singh, chairman of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement and the principal negotiator from the ex-servicemen.
With the ex-servicemen sticking to their guns, the government also hardened its position against their seemingly inflexible attitude, paving the way for more fireworks.
The NDA leadership hinted at considering a different set of negotiators, who would be more sympathetic towards recognising the legal, administrative and financial problems the government would face in realising the OROP scheme, reliable sources told Deccan Herald.
“The government is working to fill in the small gaps. The PMO is directly involved. Give it some time for completion,” said Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar here.
“The prime minister had on August 15 given his approval in principle. Ex-servicemen saying 'do it in these many days' will not help,” he added.
The negotiations are stuck on three demands. The government proposes 2011 as the base year for pension calculation, implementation from April 1, 2015, and revision every five years. All three were rejected by the retired soldiers, who wanted 2013-14 as the base year, implementation from April 1, 2014, and an annual raise.
Another round of consultation with Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag on Thursday night remained inconclusive.
A five-member delegation met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday. “He did not give any date. He said he would try his best,” said Maj Gen Satbir Singh. Rajnath later met the prime minister. The protesters are in no mood to relent.
“The government is now talking about complication. Couldn't the prime minister see complications when he announced OROP from Siachen last Diwali?” Maj (retd) Rajendra Singh, a veteran of the 1965 war, told Deccan Herald.
The ex-servicemen also organised an event to mark the capture of the Haji Pir pass in the 1965 war with the presence of close to 70 veterans who took part in the war.