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As the government today accepted the 'one-rank, one-pension' demand of the ex-servicemen, Rahul Gandhi hailed the announcement as "historic" while Bharatiya Janata Party accused UPA of "paying lip service" to the cause of defence personnel.
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, who had last week assured a delegation of ex-servicemen of his support to the demand, told reporters that "our forces are always ready to fight for the nation and people and it is our duty that we provide them all support.
"I thank the government, the Prime Minister and the Congress President for taking this historic step. Our government is fully behind them. They always stand behind the nation," Rahul Gandhi said.
Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, however, questioned the sincerity of the government, saying it had made similar promise earlier.
"The UPA government has been paying lip service to the cause of defence personnel. In the 2009-10 budget, a committee was set up and its recommendations were promised to be implemented. But the grievances remained as the approach was half-baked.
"The Finance Minister has again promised that this cause has been completely addressed. There should be no attempt to play with the aspirations of our armed force," Jaitley said.
Trinamool Congress termed the Finance Minister's announcement a "gimmick on our brave soldiers", wondering if a small outlay of Rs 500 crore would be enough.
"UPA's made promises for others to keep. 'One-rank, one-pay' is too late, with too small an outlay (Rs 500 crore). A gimmick on our brave soldiers," TMC spokesperson Derek O'Brien said.
The government today accepted the long-standing demand of ex-servicemen for 'one-rank, one-pension' and allocated Rs 500 crore for the fund, a decision that is expected to benefit around 30 lakh retired personnel of the Armed forces.