The Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM) organised a meeting of ex-servicemen and retired soldiers in paramilitary forces from four districts here on Saturday.
Brig (retd) PK Bhalla presided over the meeting with Col Tashi Dogra, popularly known as the 'Mountain Man' for his record breaking mountaineering expeditions being the guest of honor.
Bhalla criticised the negligent attitude of state and central governments over the pending demands of nearly 100 million ex-servicemen, serving personnel, war widows and their families since independence.
"Our demand of one rank-one pension was never taken seriously and that of being provided health facilities never even made it to the agenda of various parties,''he averred, saying this was because representatives of ex-servicemen and serving personnel had never lobbied for their cause with the government.
He stated the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement had decided to support Thakur as the BJP's parliamentary candidate from Mandi to ensure soldiers had adequate representation in Parliament to safeguard its interests.
He noted there are over 45,000 serving and retired servicemen, war widows and dependents in Mandi district alone.
Bhalla seemed confident about Thakur's victory in the upcoming polls if he was given a ticket. "If however he is denied a ticket IEMS will hold a state level meeting to decide its future course of action", he stated.
Brig Kushal Thakur, 60, joined the Indian army in 1976 as a commissioned officer. In 1999 he was awarded the Yudh Seva Medal for bravery in the Kargil war in 1999. Promoted as brigadier in 2004, he served in 56 Mountain Brigade in the Drass sector in Kashmir and retired in 2010. He is a founder member of IESM and several other organisations working for the welfare of armymen and their dependents.