Amid an ongoing political slugfest over the death of an ex-serviceman, who allegedly committed suicide over the delay in implementation of the One Rank, One Pension scheme (OROP), Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday trained his guns on the Congress for playing politics over the issue and insisted that the government could not be blamed for the ex-serviceman’s death as it has already implemented the OROP scheme.
“Congress didn’t have sympathy for retired defence personnel during its 10-yr rule,” said Jaitley. “Government sympathises with defence personnel who committed suicide; not a lapse that OROP was not granted. It seems there was some communication gap with banks.”
Further justifying his government’s stance on the raging issue, the Finance Minister said, “The UPA government had made a provision of only Rs 500 cr for OROP but the NDA govt not only implemented OROP but the fitment of pension amount will also be reviewed every five years as against 10 yrs for government employees.”
Ram Kishan Grewal, ex-servicemen, had come to the capital to protest against the government’s alleged backtracking on the implementation of the OROP scheme. The 69-year-old consumed poison even as he and four others accompanying him were waiting to meet Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to submit a memorandum reiterating their demands on the OROP scheme.
The death of Grewal has triggered an intense political battle between the BJP, Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) with the Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi being detained thrice in two days over his agitation on the alleged suicide of the ex-servicemen. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Labour Minister Gopal Rai were also detained by Delhi Police at separate stations.
On being asked about Union Minister VK Singh’s remarks over the ex-Army man’s death, Jaitley said, “Nobody should turn personal tragedy into political gain, all leaders should exercise caution and be sensitive.”
Singh stirred a controversy on Wednesday when he raised questions about the ‘mental state’ of Grewal. “He (Grewal) was a Congress worker. He became sarpanch on Congress’ ticket. However, he was our soldier. I feel sad over his death,” Singh had said on Thursday.
With inputs from PTI