A Congress-led government would fulfil all the commitments the party had made on the ‘one rank, one pension’ issue, Rahul Gandhi told a group of ex-servicemen on Saturday.
The Congress chief made the remark at a press interaction, after a 30-minute-long meet with retired defence personnel at the AICC headquarters, during which the Rafale deal issue and the Kashmir situation also came up.
Gandhi told the ex-servicemen, after the press meet, that if his party is voted to power in the 2019 parliamentary election, it will “fulfil all the commitments”, the Congress had made on the OROP issue.
The ex-servicemen told me that OROP has not been implemented, and they also discussed other issues, he said.
“These issues are related. That they (the government) have Rs 30,000 crore to give to Anil Ambani but our soldiers can’t be given OROP. This is the connection,” Gandhi told reporters.
“And, the amount of Rs 30,000 crore was more than enough to solve the OROP issue,” he said.
The Congress has alleged that the Anil Ambani-led company was favoured by the Modi government on the offset contract of the French fighter jet deal.
The private firm, however, has denied the allegations.
The meeting was also attended by former defence minister A K Antony, AICC general secretary Ashok Gehlot, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala and several retired senior officials of the defence forces.
Major General Satbir Singh (retired), who has been spearheading the agitation for implementation of OROP told reporters after the meet that they have appealed to Gandhi to take up the issues with the government, as the Congress is the principal opposition party.
“We are soldiers and we are on the streets. We feel humiliated. We demand that the army’s dignity be restored as it was on August 15, 1947,” Singh said.
Gandhi said he “felt sad” to see these ex-servicemen expressing “dejection and the humiliation” they feel. “They may not tell you openly but in the meeting it came out,” he said.
Gehlot also tweeted on the meeting and shared the views expressed by some of the members, who participated in the meet, and also shared pictures of the interaction.
“Rafale deal by NDA is in complete violation of Defence Procurement Procedure para 28, 80, 104-105 : Ex-serviceman of the Indian Army,” he tweeted.
Earlier, during the meeting, Satbir Singh said the veterans were “very concerned and anguished over the OROP issue”.
“Unfortunately, it has been 1,231 days of struggle, and we haven’t got an acknowledgement of the letters sent to the prime minister, the last one being sent five days ago, he alleged during the meeting.
He said the ex-servicemen were promised implementation of ‘one rank, one pension’ but it is nowhere close to that.
“We request to you as the president of the principal opposition party to take up these issues with all the might, along with other parties,” Singh said.
Among other issues raised, he also proposed constitution of a commission for ex-servicemen, headed by an ex-servicemen.