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Govt trying to ‘steal’ Armed Forces’ pension, alleges Congress

Congress flag. File   | Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre

The Congress on Friday accused the Narendra Modi government of betraying the Armed Forces by trying to “steal” their pension and accused it of “fake nationalism”.

Party general secretary Randeep Surjewala said the Prime Minister should clarify the government’s proposal to lower the pension amount of those officers seeking premature retirement after serving for 20 years.

“We demand that Prime Minister Modi comes forward and clarifies his stand on the issue, and takes back its [the government’s] anti-Army decision of October 29,” Mr. Surjewala said at a press conference.

“An officer after 20 years of rigorous service, right now gets 50% of his last drawn salary as pension but the government’s new proposal is snatching away 50% of this. For example, if an officer gets ₹1 lakh as his last drawn salary, presently, he will get ₹50,000 as pension but the BJP’s new proposal shall only give the officer ₹25,000,” he claimed.

While the government sought votes on the sacrifices of brave soldiers, it would be the first regime in the country’s history to “steal the pension” and prevent alternate career choices for officers who sought early retirement after serving 20 years, he stated.

‘Anti-Army face’

“This Diwali, Mr. Modi exhorted the nation to light a diya for our soldiers, but has ensured darkness in their lives by attempting to reduce their pension by half. If this is not the BJP’s ‘fake nationalism’, then what is it?” he asked. The move had exposed “the anti-Army face of the fake nationalists”, Mr. Surjewala alleged.

The new proposal of allowing “full pension” to only those officers who have spent more than 35 years in the Armed Forces would demoralise the Armed Forces, he said. “In reality, 90% of the Army officers retire before 35 years of service and that’s why the move is a conspiracy to deny 90% of Army officers their full pensions,” the Congress spokesperson said.

Mr. Surjewala questioned if the government could change the officers’ service conditions retrospectively since they signed a compulsorily a 20-year bond at the Indian Military Academy.

The government, he stated, did not fully implement ‘One Rank, One Pension’ (OROP), something the Ministry of Defence had denied in an official statement. The Ministry said ₹10,795.4 crore had been disbursed to 20,60,220 pensioners/family pensioners as arrears on account of OROP implementation. The yearly recurring expenditure on account of implementing OROP was ₹7,123 crore and, so far, an amount of ₹42,740 crore had been paid as pensions since OROP was implemented in November 2015, the statement said.

The government not only did not provide full protective gear to the troops on the border but also shelved the Mountain Strike Corps — meant to be deployed along the China border with 70,000 additional soldiers — citing lack of money, he added.

Rahul’s tweet

Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, in a tweet, attacked the government for its handling of the border hostility with China.

“Chinese respect strength & clear strategic action. GOI’s approach of kowtowing to everyone is taking India into a dangerous quagmire,” he tweeted, responding to a public comment made by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat, that border skirmishes could lead to wider conflicts.

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2021 5:01:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/govt-trying-to-steal-armed-forces-pension-alleges-congress/article33043405.ece

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