After All-India Congress Committee (AICC) vice-president Rahul Gandhi lauded the party’s government for announcing the ‘One Rank, One Pension’ scheme, opposition Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday termed it a “mere poll gimmick”.
The BJP’s ex-servicemen cell state convenor Brigadier Lal Chand Jaswal on Saturday said the issue was raised by the BJP a long time ago, and in 1990, former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal raised the matter in the Lok Sabha.
Addressing mediapersons here, Jaswal alleged that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government did not announce anything for the welfare of the ex-servicemen during its 10-year regime. “However, just before the elections, the Congress has announced the scheme without a clear roadmap,” he said.
He said finance minister P Chidambaram had announced the scheme in his last budget speech, but with the provision of only `500 crore, while the government agencies had ascertained that more than `2,000 crore were required.
He alleged that the government had not clarified who would be given the benefits and how the scheme would be formulated. “The government does not have a clear policy and the announcement on the threshold of the Lok Sabha elections is just a poll gimmick,” he added.
Accusing the Congress-led government of “demoralising the defence forces”, Jaswal said people joined the Army for status and the country, not for money. “The Congress government has demoralised the Army personnel
through disparity at various levels,” he said.
He added that the ex-servicemen had pressed the government for a separate pay commission for defence, but they were not given representation in the seventh pay commission. “A separate pay commission is needed to sort out some anomalies in the pay and pensions for defence people, but we failed to get representation in the seventh pay commission. It shows how seriously the government takes our issues. Defence personnel get less salary and promotions, as compared to people in the civil services,” he alleged.
Drawing a parallel between the UPA and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Jaswal said the Vajpayee government has started widow pension and ex-servicemen contributory health schemes for the welfare of ex-servicemen and their families, but the UPA government did not enhance the Rs 3,500 widow pension even after 10 years.
During the session, Jaswal introduced Kargil hero Brigadier Kushal Thakur as “a strong contender” for the Lok Sabha ticket from Mandi. Addressing the media, Thakur accusing the Congress government of demoralising the armed forces.
Commenting on Kamal Kant Batra, mother of Kargil hero Captain Vikram Batra, contesting the polls from Hamirpur on Aam Aadmi Party ticket, Brigadier Kushal Thakur said, “To be a candidate of AAP is the choice of Batra’s family. Being ex-servicemen, we respect them.”