Ex-servicemen body to support Cong in assembly polls

Ex-servicemen body to support Cong in assembly polls

 Congress today got a boost with a prominent ex-servicemen organisation lending support to it for the upcoming Assembly elections, alleging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done "precious little" for their welfare.

The Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM), which is spearheading an agitation for OROP implementation for last 571 days here, announced to support Congress in presence of PCC president Amarinder Singh and chief ministers of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand Virbhadra Singh and Harish Rawat respectively.

Speaking at the AICC headquarters, IESM chairman Maj Gen Satbir Singh (retd), hit out at the Prime Minister for not fulfilling his promise of granting OROP to all soldiers and accused the government of changing the definition of OROP as spelt out by Congress-led UPA before it was voted out of power.

In an apparent dig at the Prime Minister, he quoted Chanakya to say the king is not worthy of respect if a soldier has to go to him to seek something for him or his family.

Insisting that IESM, which is a federation of ex-servicemen's organisations all over the country, has agreed to back Congress in the poll-going states as also elsewhere in the country as the party leadership has agreed to a charter of demands on OROP and related issues for welfare of soldiers, Satbir Singh said.

"Congress has given its agreement on implementation of OROP... We fully support the Congress in all the state in these elections," he said.

The League has also taken upon itself for educating people to cast vote to those who fulfill their assurances. "We will be with you if you don't break our assurances," he said.

Amarinder Singh said most of the ex-service organisations throughout the country will be working together for the benefit of the Congress.

He said the movement entered its 571st day of protest at Jantar Mantar, on issues which they feel as ex-servicemen are vital for welfare of servicemen, like OROP, 7th Pay Commission and most importantly the downgrading of precedence of various ranks of the Army in relation to civilian counterparts.

"The last issue is the biggest thing. The 'Izzat' of a serviceman is more important than anything else. These issues are not limited just to Punjab. But, is affecting everybody," he said.

Amarinder said there is great strength in servicemen. "We have all come on the same stage to work for benefit of all," he said.

"We have agreed to an ESM cell at the Chief Ministers Office and we have started a new department called 'Guardians of Governance'," the PCC chief said.
"This will be a paid organisation which will employ ex-servicemen down to village-level and monitor how funds are spent. We hope this will help us improve the governance of Punjab," he said.

Criticising the Defence Minister for his remarks against two top Army commanders, Amarinder said, instead of focusing on important issues, the Defence Minister is criticising for the sake of criticism.

"We took umbrage at the comments made by Defence Minister against the two Army commanders, both of whom are outstanding soldiers. Then he said IB looked into them. That is an insult to the Army Commanders," he said.

Virbhadra Singh said Himachal Pradesh is a state with a large number of serving and retired service personnel.

"We are here to give support to ex-servicemen, who are agitating for the real implementation of the promises made to them. OROP has in reality not been fulfilled and falls short of expectations. Service personnel are people of Honour. They live with Honour. The Centre should not ignore their demands," he said.

"It is shameful that our soldiers have to sit-in Jantar Mantar for their demands which are just and we fully endorse them. The government is totally oblivious of their demands and are adding salt to their wounds.

"It is not a question of money but a question of honour for soldiers," Virbhadra said.
Rawat said the way ex-servicemen were treated by the Prime Minister is not "acceptable", even as he accused the government of not just diluting the OROP issue but also of diverting from the issue.

"Their right demands and concerns are being bulldozed and we are feeling very hurt and rejected over it," he said.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said Prime Minister Modi promised to give OROP to ex-soldiers but changed it to 'One Rank and 5 pensions' and by doing so has betrayed the ex-servicemen.

"There has been proud history of Congress and soldiers and former soldiers have decided to support the Congress all over the country and expose and highlight the Modi government's betrayal," he said.

Senior Congress leaders Ambika Soni, Asha Kumari and former CLP leader in Punjab Sunil Jakhar were also present.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
Comments (+)