19 Mar : BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Shri L K Advani assured retired soldiers that he will fulfill their ‘one rank one pension’ demand. Addressing a group of veterans who have been protesting in New Delhi for the last 3 months, Shri Advani said “If we come to power in the next general elections, it is my promise that I will persuade my colleagues to give priority to the fulfillment of the long overdue ‘One Rank, One Pension’ demand.” Meanwhile, in pursuit of this demand retired soldiers of varying ranks have returned more than 10,000 medals to the President.Lt Gen N S Malik, Convener of the Defence Cell of the BJP and Shri Rajeev Chandrashekhar, Member of Parliament, were also present at the protest.
The BJP is supportive of the ‘One Rank, One Pension’ demand for several reasons:
1. The ‘One Rank One Pension’ issue has been raised before both the V and VI Pay Commissions.
2. The issue is about the considerable disparity in pension between pensioners that retired pre-1996, between 1996-2006 and post 2006.
3. Since the pay scales were revised by the V and VI Pay Commissions, the tie up with the last drawn pay had widened the disparity in pensions.
4. The V Pay Commission, in 1996, has recommended parity in pension between pre- and post-1986 pensioners. This was a follow up to the KP Singh Deo report in 1984 and a one time increase in 1992 towards bringing parity in pensions. But the V Pay Commission’s recommendations on the pension of ‘post-1996’ retirees, was still tied to the last drawn pay.
5. The V Pay Commission has also made provisions for neutralization of price rise.
6. The VI Pay Commission has given a ‘fitment benefit’ to all retired employees, both civilian and defense, to partially compensate for the disparities in the pre-2006 and post-2006 retirees.
7. Also in order to compensate for the reduced employment of defense personnel period, a ‘year weightage’ is included in calculation of benefits.
8. It is a highly emotive issue, since the soldiers retain their titles post retirement and the financial benefits accruing to them are determined by the retirement date.
9. Fiscal outlay for implementing the ‘One Rank One Pension’ is going to be modest–only in the order of Rs.1500 crores.
Considering the fact that the soldiers serve the best years of their lives in defense of the country in life-threatening environments and retiring early, the ‘One Rank One Pension’ demand deserves to be implemented in an expedient way. A future BJP-led government, if elected, would implement this demand without any delay.