New Delhi: A combative Rahul Gandhi on Friday stepped up pressure on the government over OROP, accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of "lying" on the issue and insisting what the retired defence personnel were now getting was "enhanced pension" and that 'One Rank-One Pension' demand was yet to be fulfilled.
The Congress vice president asserted that OROP was the right of military personnel and the government "will have to give it".
"What PM says is One Rank-One Pension is actually pension enhancement and not OROP. PM should stop lying on the issue.”
"OROP is the right of armed forces personnel and government will have to give it," Rahul, who was detained thrice over two days during protests over the suicide by Army veteran Ram Kishan Grewal, told reporters.
Grewal had allegedly committed suicide over OROP. An unfazed Gandhi said he was not bothered by his detention.
Accusing the government of waiving loans of a staggering Rs 1.10 lakh crore of 15 big industrialists, Gandhi said it has nothing to give to soldiers and farmers.
"The government has not given respect and the right which is due to soldiers. If it had, why these ex-servicemen been protesting for the last 509 days at Jantar-Mantar," he said after meeting around 60-70 military veterans at the AICC headquarters.
Gandhi, who has been in the forefront of the protests after Grewal's suicide, accused the government of not "doing justice to soldiers who sacrifice their life for the country."
Gandhi said he met "experienced" ex-servicemen from across the country and had a "good discussion" with them. The Congress leader said the veterans clearly told them that what Narendra Modi was calling implementation of "One Rank One Pension" was only "pension ehancement" and not OROP.
"Every jawan, captain and general knows this, understands it. OROP is not about the money but about the dignity of our soldiers, about justice for our soldiers," he said.
Gandhi said former soldiers staging protests for implementation of OROP have also said they will not press their demand if government tells them it does not have money.
But the truth is that some 15 industrialists have been given away Rs 1.10 lakh crore by the government by way of waiving their bad loans and it can provide money for ex-servicemen, he said.
"There used to be a slogan of Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan. But neither the farmer not the jawans are getting money. Neither the farmer nor the ex-servicemen are respected.”
"What is happening is that Prime Minister is saying 'One Rank One Pension' has been implemented. Then why are our ex-servicemen standing at Jantar Mantar and before the media. They have been there for 509 days," he asked.
Gandhi said the former soldiers have some other demands relating to disability pension and 7th pay commission recommendations which the government needs to fulfil after it promised that it will implement OROP in toto.
"I want to tell the government that our jawans and ex-servicemen have given away their lives and years for the country. You should respect them and implement OROP in its true sense. It is their right and the government will have to do it," he said.
Recalling his detention during protests over the recent suicide of army veteran Ram Kishan Grewal, whose kin were also taken into custody, he demanded that the government must apologise to the family for the manner in which they were treated was "unacceptable" and "wrong".
Earlier, former Defence Minister A K Antony, who was also present during the meeting, said the Modi government was making "false promises" on OROP and "it will be forced to implement it in toto, this is what my feeling is".
He hailed Rahul Gandhi's efforts for implementation of OROP and said he was the inspiration behind the UPA government's decision to implement 'One Rank One Pension' scheme. "I am sure his support will go a long way in implementing the OROP," Antony said.
Former Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Singh and AICC incharge of Communications department Randeep Surjewala were also present.
Later speaking to the media, Maj Gen Satbir Singh of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, which is leading the fight for total implementation of OROP, said "We have apprised Rahul Gandhi of the subject and our demands. It is the duty of every Parliamentarian to raise the issue in Parliament and help the ex-servicemen get their rights."
Asked if he was satisfied with his meeting with Rahul, he said, "He wanted to understand the issue and we have explained to him. Hope he raises our issue and helps in getting OROP implemented." Singh said he was against "polticisation" of the issue.