DAYS AFTER he accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of hiding behind the soldiers and doing “dalali” (deals) on their sacrifice, Rahul Gandhi on Saturday wrote to him and said that some of the “actions” by his government in recent days have “hurt” the soldiers and caused them “pain.”
These decisions, the Congress vice-president said, affect the morale of the forces. “Just days after our soldiers conducted the surgical strikes, the disability pension system was converted to a new slab system, that in many instances drastically reduces the pension received by these brave men in case of a disability,” Rahul wrote. “The rollout of the 7th pay commission continues to keep our defence forces at a disadvantage and further exacerbates the disparity between them and civil employees.”
To add to that, Rahul wrote, it emerged from media reports that the government had downgraded the status of military officers vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts, in a letter dated October 18. “And finally, contrary to what was promised, One Rank One Pension (OROP), as implemented by your government, does not fully meet the genuine demands of our ex-servicemen,” the letter stated. This has “forced (retired servicemen) to come out on the streets to make their voice heard on this vital issue”.
The main opposition party has on several occasions attacked the government on these issues ever since the surgical strikes turned into a bitter political slug-fest, in an apparent attempt to counter the BJP’s display of triumphalism. The Congress contends that while the BJP has used the surgical strikes to reap political gains, soldiers have been given a raw deal by the Modi government.
Rahul’s emphasis on OROP comes days after PM Modi hit out at previous Congress-led governments at the Centre, saying they had delayed and misled people on the issue for 40 years.
Rahul, who began the letter by wishing the PM a “very happy Diwali”, wrote that he was “saddened” that the actions taken by the government in the last few weeks have “far from reassuring our soldiers, indeed caused them pain and hurt.”