Claiming that he had made "little" contribution in the decision to bring in the 'One Rank, One Pension' scheme, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi today said it should have been introduced 25 years ago.
Addressing a gathering of ex-servicemen from the region late in the evening, Gandhi said, "The decision should have been taken some 25 year back... now that it has been taken this will benefit some 25 lakh soldiers and their families." Gandhi, who had reportedly pushed for the scheme, said, "My contribution in this is little."
He, however, admitted that he had told Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the issue. "I told the Congress president and the Prime Minister that whenever a jawan is deployed on border he works from his heart... He is prepared to sacrifice his life for the country, so we must take the decision (One Rank, One Pension) from the heart," the Congress vice president told the gathering.
Gandhi said it was easy to make promises. "I can make tall promises here... One thing I want to tell you that in the next five, 10 or 15 years you will see it clearly," he said, indicating that he keep the promises he makes to the people. "Whenever you (soldiers) need me whether for a small or a big work, whatever help I can do, I will try to do it," he told the ex-servicemen who had gathered to thank him for his role in clearing 'One Rank, One Pension'. "I don't want to say more than this to you here... You should feel that if I have said anything I had done it," he said, adding "whatever I can do I do it from my heart."
He lauded the contribution of Army and Air Force personnel during the natural calamity at Uttarakhand.
Gandhi also shared a brief story of his visit to borders in Rajasthan and meeting soldiers there who, he said, work under hot torrid conditions despite all odds. He said that "we need to thank the soldiers instead of they thanking us as they sacrifice their lives, sweat out and prepared to give their blood at all times". The ex-servicemen urged Gandhi to get the 'One Rank, One Pension' scheme notified before the Model Code of Conduct for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls come into effect.
They demanded that this scheme be implemented before June 30 and all arrears must be given before September 30.
They also demanded setting up of a monitoring cell in the Defence Ministry to monitor the scheme and its progress should be watched in a time bound manner.
Also read: What is 'One Rank, One Pension'?