Times of India
14 May 2009
IESM volte-face stirs confusion among veterans?
14 May 2009, 0432 hrs IST, Ajay Sura, TNN
CHANDIGARH: After announcing clear support to NDA ahead of polls, the office-bearers of Indian ex-servicemen movement (IESM), in an eleventh hour turnaround, decided to go with Congress, apparently following assurances given by Capt Amarinder Singh.
As a result, most ex-servicemen who had already made up their mind to vote for NDA, decided to go ahead with their personal choice, with no clear mandate for any party.
Incidentally, at a huge function organized recently in Chandigarh, IESM had announced the support in favour of NDA candidates. IESM had also taken back the nomination of their candidate, Brig (retd) Harwant Singh in favour of BJP nominee from Chandigarh, Satya Pal Jain.
While extending support to NDA candidates, representatives of IESM had stated that NDA’s PM candidate LK Advani had assured that their long-pending demand of one rank-one pension (OROP) would be accepted within 100 days if their party is voted to power.
But surprisingly, Lt Col Sohi, co-coordinator of IESM (Punjab chapter) along with other representatives announced support in favour Congress candidate in Mohali and made urged all IESM members at Chandigarh to vote for the Congress nominee.
Lt Col Sohi told TOI that they had decided to support the Congress candidates after Capt Amarinder assured that a special committee would be set up to consider their demand of OROP. “We are only bothered about our demand being fulfilled as Manmohan Singh is expected to become PM again, so we decided to support Congress candidates,” he added.
Pointing out that every political party promised to implement the OROP demand, but never did so when it came to power, Bhim Sen Sahgal, chairman All India ex-India ex-servicemen welfare association (regd.) said: “We asked the ex-servicemen to vote according to their conscious.’’
However, Brigadier Harwant Singh of IESM, said there are some defence personnel in tricity, who feel that Manmohan as Prime Minister can fulfil their demand of OROP.