Prodded by its ideological parent, the BJP seemed to have persuaded the Narendra Modi-led government to announce the implementation of the long-pending One Rank, One Pension or OROP scheme which could provide the party a political advantage in the upcoming Bihar elections, expected to be announced early next week.
With BJP president Amit Shah accepting it as a political promise, the NDA government had to make the OROP decision before the Election Commission announcement of Bihar election which would bring in the code of conduct immediately. The scheme will cost the government exchequer almost Rs 9,000 crore.
Had the government failed to announce the scheme Saturday, BJP’s political opponents would have rubbed it in against the Prime Minister. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who leads the campaign for JD-U-RJD-Congress combine, has been taking potshots at the PM for making a number of promises and not fulfilling them. Though it claims an clear edge over its opponents in Bihar, the BJP does not want to give more ammunition to Nitish Kumar who has been taking on the Prime Minister directly.
The BJP missed no chance to make it clear that the announcement was a political decision. After holding a meeting with the representatives of ex-servicemen, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar met Shah at his residence. BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi, who was also present, said the government was close to announcing a solution.
On Friday, RSS joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabele had said that Shah had informed that the scheme will be worked out soon.
The RSS is learnt to have cautioned both the BJP leadership and the government over the “political consequences” if the OROP promise was not delivered. Armed forces personnel form a strong constituency of both the BJP and the RSS and any further delay would have upset the families of lower rank soldiers, mostly from Haryana, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Punjab.
Immediately after the announcement, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav tweeted: “Cong cheated veterans by alotng just 500 cr 4 OROP. We sanctioned 8000+ cr. All demands of veterans except 1 granted.”