Deadlock over OROP continues as 'govt shifts goal posts'

Deadlock over OROP continues as 'govt shifts goal posts'

Deadlock over OROP continues as 'govt shifts goal posts'

 Ex-servicemen on Thursday blamed the Narendra Modi government for showing no clarity on the controversial one rank, one-pension (OROP) scheme rollout and shifting the goal posts, even as backchannel discussions were continuing to resolve the crisis before the dates of Bihar Assembly elections are announced.

“Where do we go for negotiations. People from the government offer one thing and the next day another person comes up with another statement. They are constantly shifting goal posts. There is no clear signal of intent from the government or any concrete proposal,” said Anil Kaul, media adviser to the United Front of Ex-Servicemen.

A delegation of ex-servicemen met the Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, who is mediating between the retired soldiers who are on the street for the last 81 days and the government that hardened its position after failing to convince the veterans to show flexibility.

Several permutations and combinations are being worked out but neither side have come out in the open with the winning deal. Defence minister Manohar Parrikar, however, told a delegation on Wednesday that OROP would be implemented before Bihar election dates are announced.

“The government was trying to portray us as greedy and divide the officers and other ranks. If something happened to the retired soldiers, who are on hunger strike, the government would be responsible,” the veterans said here on Thursday.

“We are not asking for three per cent increment. This is a misnomer being floated. The cost of implementing OROP will come to around Rs 8,294 crore which has been worked out by the three service pay cells and the Ministry of Defence. Why is there ambiguity now. Something must be wrong somewhere,” said Kaul.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley has left for Turkey and is scheduled to return only on Monday. He was against the annual revision of pension as demanded by the ex-servicemen following the OROP criterion, but the veterans stuck to their guns.

Close to 26 lakh retired servicemen and over 6 lakh war widows stand to be immediate beneficiaries of the scheme, which envisages a uniform pension for the defence personnel who retire in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.

Currently, the pension for retired personnel is based on the Pay Commission recommendations of the time when he or she retires. So, a Major General who retired in 1996 draws less pension than a Lt Colonel who retired after 1996.

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