New Delhi: As the protests over the delay in implementation of 'One Rank, One Pension' continued for the 68th day, former army chief Gen (retd) VP Malik on Friday said it was high time that Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke directly to the veterans.
Gen Malik, who has been actively involved in the talks between the government and the veterans, and acted as intermediary a lot of times, said it was unfair that the bureaucrats were talking to veterans on behalf of the government.
"I do feel that prime minister should talk to the veterans directly now," Malik told IANS. "I don't think it is fair that bureaucracy talks to the veterans. The leaders should talk directly."
The veterans were trying to meet the prime minister and have sought help from Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for this.
The Prime Minister's Office held talks with the veterans at least thrice in the last fortnight.
The first two meetings were before Independence Day, when Gen Malik met PMO representatives on August 11 and again on August 13.
According to sources, Modi was ready to announce OROP in his I-Day speech, however, the talks between PMO representatives and the veterans failed as the government wanted to make certain changes in the scheme, which the veterans felt was equal to back tracking from what was promised.
The situation worsened when police used force against the veterans on August 14.
The next meeting with Principal Secretary in PMO Nripendra Misra came on Tuesday.
The meeting however remained inconclusive. While the secretary urged the veterans to end the agitation, the ex-servicemen stayed firm on their demands.
The ex-servicemen are demanding that there should be no change in the definition of OROP, the date of implementation should remain as April 1, 2014, and the base year must remain 2013-14.
That means all past pensioners would be brought at par with pension as existing on March 31, 2014.