Lt Col CR Sundar
Alluding to P Chidambaram’s fraudulent victory from Sivaganga constituency in the Lok Sabha election of 2009, Narendra Modi refers to him as the ‘re-counting minister’. But that term does not fully cover the total scope of skullduggery practised by that underhand dealer and trickster during his political career.
The latest in Chidambaram’s long list of deception is to try to pass-off ‘modified parity in pensions’ as ‘one rank one pension’ to the Defence Forces. The two are as different as chalk and cheese.
One rank one pension envisages same amount of pension for two soldiers who retired in the same rank after having served for the same length of service. For example, a Hawaldar who retired in February 1987 with 18 years of service will get the same amount of pension as a Hawaldar retiring in February 2014 with the same length of service.
However, what has been offered in Para 56 of Chidambaram’s Interim Budget of 2014 is an attempt to prospectively make-up the gap between the basic pensions of pre and post 2006 retirees. This ‘making up the gap’ is what is referred to as ‘modified parity in pension’ which is applicable to all employees be they soldiers or civilians.
Here too, in the case of modified parity one point has to be noted. Subsequent to the 6 Pay Commission the Government had changed the rule and had said that those retiring after January 1, 2006 did not need to have 33 years of service for full pension as a part of modified parity. However, this 33 years rule continues to be applicable to pre 2006 retirees.
This discrepancy was challenged in the AFT in 2009 and in 2011 the AFT declared that this differentiating among pensioners was unconstitutional. The Government has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against this AFT ruling but is bound to lose the case.
Knowing this the Government has agreed to go by the AFT ruling even before the conclusion of the case in the Supreme Court. But here also whereas the AFT judgement is effective with retrospective effect from January 1, 2006what has been offered in the budget will come into effect prospectively.
So when Chidambaram says that he is “happy to announce that Government has accepted the principle of One Rank One Pension” , it is clear for all to see that nothing like that has happened. What the old dodger has employed is nothing other than a subterfuge, an artifice, a deceptive stratagem.
Defence veterans have seen too many earlier attempts by Congress charlatans such as Anthony and Pranab Mukherjee. Therefore two things are bound to happen.
Chidambaram’s announcement will be given the scant regard that it deserves. Secondly, and even more important, if the Rahul Gandhi ‘Valentine’s Day brigade headed by Gen Raj Kadyan believe that the Congress will by such bilk and dupe garner veterans’ votes they are in fool’s paradise.
(The writer is president of Tamil Nadu BJP Ex Servicemen Cell)