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One Rank One Pension: Ex-defence personnel ask why it was not implemented earlier
The UPA 2 government while presenting the Vote-on-Account yesterday, accepted a very long awaited demand of defence sector by approving 'One Rank, One Pension' (OROP) scheme and allocating Rs 500 cr for the implementation of the same. Looks like the government very well knows the timing of when to pull the rabbit out of the hat!

The timing of the announcement is although debatable in wake of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, however, the step is sure to benefit 14 lakh serving and 25 lakh retired military personnel. Approval to One Rank, One Pension will also close the gap for all the retired defence personnel i.e. pre-2006 and post-2006 servicemen of all ranks.

The finance minister in his budget speech said that the OROP will be "implemented prospectively" for armed forces from 2014-2015.

The approval to OROP is also in a way an attempt to diffuse the political mileage gained by the BJP and its PM in waiting Narendra Modi during the Rewari public rally on September 15, 2013 when the paryy managed to gather thousands of retired defence personne. Former army chief VK Singh was also present on the dais with Modi in that rally.

Whether the approval to OROP is an election stunt? Will this step woo the voters in defence sector towards the Congress in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls? Has BJP lost the political mileage it had gained in Rewari after this move by the Congress? Or it is a purely welfare move with no political thinking behind it?

To get the answers of the above queries we spoke to few retired defence officials and analysts:

Bhaskar SarkarColonel (Retd.) Bhaskar Sarkar: Its good that they have finally passed it, it should have been passed earlier, this has been pending from a very long time. The Supreme Court had already ordered the defense secretary to implement this law, but they kept delaying it. I think that this is a political stunt, and the Congress way of doing things.

Chitranjan SawantBrigadier (Retd.) Chittranjan Sawant: Our friend P. Chidambaram has betrayed us. Only 5,00 crore has been allocated to fulfill the demand of One Rank One Pension. It actually requires Rs 2,000 Cr, so the government has given only 1/4th of the required money. I think that the whole budget is a (election) stunt. Modi has earlier decided to implement this (OROP), but the Congress doesn't want him to take away the piece of cake. The timing is creating doubts. Why they have announced it just before the elections. They can't fool the ex-servicemen. They won't vote to the Congress even now.

Sidhartha BoseColonel (Retd.) Siddhartha Bose: Yes the ex-service will be benefited with this step. It was a demand raised by the ex-servicemen over a decade ago. Earlier BJP has been supporting it, and Congress was not in the favour of this. But still it's the step in the right direction. But it also raises question. Why they (Congress) have announced it at this point of time. It's a kind of eye wash, and there is much more behind the scene.

Bharat VermaBharat Verma, Defense Expert: This will benefit the ex-servicemen in a great way. By giving the equal pension, they have given life to the nation, and this will also help those widows who have lost their husbands while serving the country. It will also provide the opportunity to them to live with dignity now in the society. However, this is a part of competitive politics, and Rahul Gandhi must be congratulated for this. He has become successful in implementing this long standing plan.

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