Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Bhagat Singh Koshyari on OROP : Where is discipline? Veterans behaving like labour unions:
He is one politician whose name emerges on every occasion when there is a discussion on vexed issue of One Rank One Pension (OROP). As the protesting veterans and representatives of the government lock horns, it is definition of OROP framed by this veteran, in his earlier stint in Rajya Sabha, which lies at the heart of the battle. When Bhagat Singh Koshyari, former Uttarakhand Chief Minister and veteran of the BJP and RSS submitted his committee's report, in December 2011 to the Parliament, it was hailed for its pro-soldier stand in support of OROP. Today, he broke his silence in an exclusive interview and lashed out at veterans for the poor manner in which they, in his opinion, had conducted themselves.
In remarks which may irk the protesting veterans, the septuagenarian at his Lodhi Estate residence in the heart of New Delhi said, "May be some in the agitation are thinking just because the government is listening to them they should squeeze out as much as possible. Greed may be playing a part. I can't rule out that there may be political motivations to this issue as well after all a party has ruled for six decades almost and we didn't see such things and this government is barely a year old and you are upping the ante in this form!" The protesting veterans have maintained that their agitation is apolitical and had in fact disallowed Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi when he tried to address them at Jantar Mantar on August 14. "They say once a soldier, always a soldier. Discipline is their defining attribute. Yet see how they are conducting them selves. If they continue like this, like how ordinary people or labour unions do, I can only say they will end up damaging the stature of the armed forces," he added.
According to him the government had walked more than '99 per cent' on its promise. "Need for showing flexibility and open mindedness is now for the protesters. A great soldier always knows that sometimes he may have to retreat to get to his main goal," he said.
While the protesting veterans have more than once alleged that the bureaucrats have undone the OROP, Koshyari confirmed this. "When we were listening to all stakeholders over OROP, we did come across strong opposition from large number of government employees, including senior bureaucrats. However we over-ruled them in favour of our soldiers because OROP is needed," he said.
According to Koshyari, the prevailing impasse is only and only because of the 'rigidity displayed by the ex-servicemen'. "I have no advice to give to the government. Both the PM and Defence Minister want it and bureaucracy is no longer a hurdle. Re-think over the issue is required by the veterans. They should withdraw," he concluded.
What was the Koshyari committee and what did it say on OROP?
From 2010, Rajya Sabha Committee on Petitions deliberated on the issue of granting OROP to armed forces and submitted its report on December 19, 2011. While it was chaired by Koshyari, it consisted of nine more members including Ram Vilas Paswan, Nandi Yellaiah, Rajeev Shukla, Avinash Pande, Bal Apte, P Rajeeve, Veer Pal Singh Yadav, Paul Manoj Pandian and Rajaram. It went through over 200 submissions from different organizations including the armed forces. Among its findings:
- Finance Ministry's concern that if granted to armed forces, OROP may be sought by other govt employees was unconvincing
- Unconvinced by the hurdles which the MoD portrayed existed in the implementation of OROP
- Decision of third pay commission to bring down the pay and pension of armed forces on the pattern of civilians was not a considered decision
- OROP should be implemented at the earliest
- Separate commission should look into the issues of pay and pension of the armed forces
(Source- India today)