Ex-soldier suicide: Jaitley blames banking lapse
On Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh branding the deceased as a Congress worker, he said all leaders must be “sensitive” to the suicide.
Taking Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi head-on, he said no one should try to change a personal tragedy into political gain, especially by a party whose fortune is already sinking.
The UPA government, he said, had not taken any meaningful step towards implementing one-rank-one-pension (OROP) for defence personnel in its 10 years of rule as was evident from a meagre Rs 500 crore allocation it made for the purpose. The government sympathises with the defence personnel who committed suicide, but there was not a lapse that OROP was not granted to him, he clarified.
“It obviously seems to be an administrative lapse. It is not a lapse where the OROP was not granted. It was not a lapse that there was some exception made in his favour. Obviously, communication with the bank, there seems to be some gap in that and therefore, he was given pension for one part of the service and not for other part of the service which he was legitimately entitled to,” Jaitley told reporters here. Asked about comments by V K Singh, he said, “Everybody has to be sensitive... we must appreciate the sensitivity of the person who under stress has committed suicide. I do sympathise with him and all our comments have to be sensitive on this issue.”
Critical of Gandhi for playing politics over the suicide, he said, “It is equally important that nobody tries to convert a personal tragedy of an individual into a political gain for a party whose fortunes are otherwise sinking.” He said further: “It doesn’t behove senior national leaders to exploit a tragedy of this kind, particularly in intensive care units of the hospitals. A more responsible behaviour is expected of them.”
The government, he said, fully sympathises with the defence personnel and his family who committed suicide.
For 10 years, OROP was not implemented by the Congress, Jaitley said. “So the sympathy that has arisen today is politically motivated and the NDA is the first government which has not only accepted OROP demand, but implemented it,” he said. Taking his point forward, the finance minister said Rs 1,000 crore has been budgeted for pension under OROP. He gave an assurance that the payments are already reaching the defence personnel.
“It is a very sensitive case because the government has allocated all the money. Now obviously, (as for) the communication at the bank level, there seems to have been some problem in calculating his entire service, which was divided into two parts. This was a procedural problem which could have been resolved at the level of the bank or the department dealing with it,” Jaitley said.