Today, on the eve of Diwali, the official Twitter handle of the Congress party shared a letter written by its vice president Rahul Gandhi to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 28.
No, Gandhi is not exactly greeting the PM on the occasion of Diwali but trying to do what the party accuses the BJP of doing – cash in on the sentiments of the Army personnel.
In his letter, Gandhi raises certain issues such as the 7th Pay Commission, OROP, disability pension, and parity in ranks with civilian counterparts. He accuses the government of taking decisions that “adversely affect the morale of our armed forces”.
“The roll out of the 7th Pay Commission continues to keep our defence forces at a disadvantage and further exacerbates the disparity between them and civil employees,” Rahul writes.
“Contrary to what was promised, the OROP, as implemented by your government, does not fully meet the genuine demands of the ex-servicemen and they have been forced to come out on the streets to make their voice heard on this vital issue,” he adds.
Gandhi says that his contention is based on media reports.
Surprisingly, Gandhi forgot that it was his party that not only created the OROP issue but also left it hanging for 40 years.
The OROP system was followed till Indira Gandhi revoked it after the Indo-Pak war of 1971.
It is indeed true that the issue has been a bone of contention between retired armed forces personnel and then government but the Centre has shown the highest degree of inclination in solving the dispute.
A day before Gandhi’s letter, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was submitted a report of the one-man judicial committee led by retired Chief Justice of Patna High Court L Narasimha Reddy tasked with finding anomalies, if any, arising if the government implemented the OROP.
The Reddy Commission interacted with all stakeholders and received 704 representations from individuals and various ex-servicemen associations.
In the end Gandhi concludes:
“As we celebrate Diwali, and rejoice in the victory of light over darkness, let us send this message to our soldiers that our gratitude is expressed both in words and in deed. This is the very least we owe to those who give up their today to secure our tomorrow.”
While the issues faced by the armed forces personnel must be solved at the earliest, it should be the duty of all political parties to come together on the matter instead of indulging in nitpicking.