OROP row: Mamata accuses Centre of ‘political vendetta’

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday attacked the Narendra Modi-led government for detaining Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi when they went to meet the family of ex-serviceman who had committed suicide.

She sought to know, who had ordered their detention.

“Delhi Police said they were instructed by the higher authorities to do so. I want to know who gave the instruction to arrest such leaders. This is wrong,” Banerjee said reacting to Wednesday’s incident in the nation’s capital on the One Rank, One Pension (OROP) issue.

“If the Prime Minister goes somewhere and he is told that he is detained there, that would not be a good message to the country,” Banerjee said.

Banerjee felt that there was no specific reason for detaining Rahul Gandhi.

“Even though Rahul is from the opposition party, he went there to convey his sympathy. This (detention by police) should not have been done. I would understand if there were any communal tension, but there was none,” Banerjee said.

The Trinamool Congress supremo dubbed the Centre’s stand as ‘unilateral’ and the move to detain a “political vendetta”.

The OROP scheme, announced in September, 2015, among other measures, is meant to ensure equal pension to servicemen who retired from the same rank and after the same duration of service, regardless of the year of retirement. However, retired soldiers have been alleging that the government has not addressed their concerns fully about disparity in pension.

The issue snowballed into a major political war after retired Ram Kishan Grewal, 70, a former Rajputana Rifles Subedar, allegedly demanding immediate implementation of the scheme committed suicide by consuming poison at a Delhi park on Tuesday.

Rahul Gandhi was detained twice on Wednesday as he tried to meet Grewal’s grieving family. Also detained were Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.

The Congress leader, who was among the politicians that reached Grewal’s village in Bhiwani to attend his cremation, was again detained on Thursday evening as he tried to join the protest march of the Congress party over the alleged illegal detention of Grewal’s grieving family by police in Delhi.

Banerjee alleged the Centre is “bypassing” the state governments on major issues like the 100 days’ employment guarantee programme MGNREGA.

“The central government is bypassing the state government on all major issues like 100 days’ job guarantee project. The Prime minister is consulting the Chief Secretary instead of the elected Chief Minister of the state. This has never happened before,” she said.