Senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha (RSS) functionaries on Wednesday advised the NDA government to take a quick decision on retired soldiers’ demand for a one-rank, one-pension (OROP) scheme.
The advice came on the first day of a crucial three-day coordination meeting of the RSS and its affiliates with top ministers and BJP leaders, where key social and economic issues, including those confronting the Narendra Modi government, are on the table.
A source said three top RSS leaders told senior Union ministers on the sidelines of the main event that a commission, if required, should be formed to look into the difficulties the government was facing on the OROP issue.
RSS general secretary Suresh Bhaiyaji Joshi and joint general secretaries Dattatrey Hosabale and Krishna Gopal had a word with defence minister Manohar Parrikar and home minister Rajnath Singh on the matter, the source said.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, who was present at the venue, was not part of the deliberation.
The government has been accused of going back on its promise to implement OROP, prompting many ex-servicemen to sit on a hunger strike at Jantar Mantar in Delhi.
“The RSS leadership has indicted that wants the issue to be resolved at the earliest. Most of the issues related to OROP are finalised and it should be announced. A commission can deal with the rest. A message should go to the public that this government is not sitting idle,” the source said.
BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, who was drafted into the party from the RSS, said OROP was not discussed at the coordination meeting attended by 93 leaders from the Sangh, its affiliates and BJP.
Issues related to agriculture and internal security situation, particularly the recent terror attacks in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir and the changing demographic profile in border areas, were discussed.
Besides, the Patel community’s stir in Gujarat for reservation in jobs and education, the controversial land acquisition bill, labour reforms and education policy are on the agenda.
The meeting is seen as appraisal exercise for the 15-month-old Modi government and the Sangh’s growing interest and involvement in governance.
But the RSS, the BJP’s ideological mentor, said the meet was neither meant to review the government’s performance nor to take any decision. “It was only to exchange notes and deliberate over inputs provided by participants on social, economic, cultural and education issues,” a Sangh source said.
Prime Minister Modi is expected to attend the meet on Friday.
BJP chief Amit Shah, home minister Rajnath Singh, foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, finance minister Arun Jaitley, defence minister Manohar Parrikar, transport minister Nitin Gadkari, urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu, chemicals and fertilisers minister Ananth Kumar and health minister JP Nadda were present on Day One.
The opposition Aam Aadmi Party said the meeting involving top Union ministers and BJP leaders with the RSS and its affiliates was indicative of the Sangh’s “interference” in the political process.
“The meeting between the Modi government and RSS is highly questionable. The government is accountable and answerable only to the public. Such a deliberation is a mockery of the constitutional arrangements and parliamentary democracy,” AAP leader Ashutosh said.
In Srinagar, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah took a dig at the RSS and questioned how it could be called a social organisation.
“So the RSS is doing a 3-day performance appraisal of the Modi government. Anyone else want to tell me that they are a social organisation?” Omar tweeted.
(With agency inputs)
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu, Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Ananth Kumar, Health Minister JP Nadda were among these present today besides BJP chief Amit Shah.
More ministers will join the event being presided by RSS head Mohan Bhagwat while the PM is likely to attend the meeting on Friday.