You claim that the UPA government announced One Rank One Pension and started implementing it by allocating Rs 500 crore in February 2014 budget. Then why the agitation at Jantar Mantar?
The UPA announced it. The UPA started the process of implementing it, but then the elections came. When Narendra Modiji was campaigning, he said if he got power, he would implement OROP in 100 days. But he took 17 months.
But both sides seem to be politicising the OROP issue.
I was defence minister for eight years. At no time during my tenure at the Defence Ministry I answered any political question. I said I don’t do any politics here. But today, the present defence minister (Manohar Parrikar) criticised the previous government. That is uncalled for.
Your government had two terms to implement OROP. Why wait till the fag end?
Our announcement in February 2014 was the culmination of our attempts to fulfil the promise of OROP. During UPA’s 10 years, we increased soldier pension three times, which amounted to Rs 7,000 crore. As a result the gap decreased.
What is your major disagreement with Manokar Parrikar’s announcement?
We announced OROP from April 1, 2014, onwards, the NDA wants it from July 1, 2014. We announced that military personnel who had served in the same rank for same length of period would get the same pension, all future enhancements would be automatically passed on to them. Now these people say that revision will take place only every five years. So, there is a substantial gap. Our base year was 2014 and the NDA base year is 2013. We also extended OROP to all retired servicemen, but the NDA has kept VRS (voluntary retirement from service) men out of it.
It can be argued that many servicemen get lucrative jobs after retirement.
It’s wrong to say that. See, 90 per cent of jawans retire between the ages of 35 and 40. Only .0001 per cent get good jobs. Rest are doing hard labour. All other government servants retire at 60… Indian military wants a young profile so we want jawans to retire by 35-45. Tell me, how much all of them would have earned if they had retired at 60? You have to calculate their loss and the government’s gain because they do not have to pay them till 60.
Why isn’t the police or BSF entitled to OROP?
I don’t want to comment on it. I don’t want to enter into a controversy.
Do you support armed forces veterans holding protests?
During the UPA’s tenure, the same BJP leaders supported them when they were returning medals etc. Only now they have second thoughts about agitation in streets… Only now we saw this government having second thoughts. Why? I don’t know.