Friday, September 3, 2010
Rajeev Chandrashekhar, MP who rejected 300% pay hike
Member of Parliament, Rajeev Chandrashekhar, who is an independent candidate became the only MP to reject the salary hike on the ground that the government of India was dragging its feet on the One Rank One Pension issue.
Rajeev Chandrashekhar had also written a letter to the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh stating that there is a need to resolve the long pending demand by Armed Forces veterans for One Rank , One Pension. In this interview with rediff.com Rajeev Chandrashekhar explains the reasons behind such a stand and also speaks about the next course of action on this issue.
Do you think that you rejecting the salary hike has set a precedent for the others too to follow suit?
My decision to decline the salary hike till government re-examines the long pending One Rank, One Pension (OROP) issue is a personal one and consistent with my longstanding belief and position on this issue. I could not get myself to accept a 300% salary hike when the Armed Forces veterans are forced to take to streets demanding equitable treatment for their pension. I would be very happy if public awareness and outrage is ignited as a result of this and our political leadership is then spurred into action! That would be an acceptable and happy outcome of this.How has the Prime Minister responded to your action? Well, the letter has reached the Hon’ble Prime Minister, though I am yet to get a response from him.
Why do you think the Prime Minister has ignored such an important issue of One Rank One Pension and given more importance to MPs salary hike?
I have met the Prime Minister/Defence Minister on a number of occasions to discuss this issue and the honor and recognition associated with it that the veterans seek. Both the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister have communicated their complete support to this principle, but seem to be relying on their senior bureaucrats who, it seems, have a long standing animosity and track record of obstructing uniformed forces and veterans. I have yet to get a reply to my recent letter from him though! As for the Salary hike for MPs, I believe that MPs must be compensated better that allows them to serve the people they represent better and not have to depend on other sources of income to supplement their income.
You say that there is an obstructive conduct on part of the bureaucrats. Who is more to blame the politicians or the bureaucrats?
There is a longstanding resentment on the part of bureaucrats towards servicemen and the veterans because of the respect that society gives to the veterans and servicemen. More recently, I am aware of one or two very senior bureaucrats who have taken it upon themselves to “teach these protesting veterans a lesson” and have blocked and diluted every effort by the political leadership to give this long overdue honor to the veterans and servicemen.
Have you received support from any other MP from any party on this issue?
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence has unambiguously and unanimously endorsed the OROP and recommended the same to the Government of India. There is widespread support for OROP amongst MPs across political parties.
What is the next course of action in case the government does not go ahead with the One Rank One Pension scheme.
I hope this does not come to pass. I hope the Government realizes the dangerous implications of taking this approach to a legitimate request of honor and izzat by the veterans who have served this nation for many years. I shall continue to raise public and political awareness of these dangers and of the deliberate, obstructive approach by a few bureaucrats.
In Karnataka too you have taken up the cause of ex-servicemen with regards to the War Memorial. Any reason for an affinity towards the ex-servicemen.
Firstly, I am the son of a Service Officer and have lived my childhood and part of my adult life in the company of servicemen and their families - serving and retired. I have grown up admiring and respecting the strong ethos of national service and duty, nation-before-self attitude, valour and sacrifices made by the soldiers and their families. Where in countries like US and UK, citizens and the government give tremendous respect and support to their Armed Forces, it pains me to see our own country, our government and a large number of our citizens being unaware and unappreciative of the bravery and sacrifices made by the Armed Forces.
It is my honor and privilege to be associated with Karnataka Government’s National Military Memorial Park in Bengaluru, the first such memorial in post independence India which is a symbol of the thanks from the citizens of Bangalore and Karnataka to the families and memories of the many soldiers from our state who made the ultimate sacrifice for the Nation.
You were asked to head the housing scheme for flood affected people. Why did the Reddy brothers protest that?
I have no specific idea why anyone would oppose my efforts in facilitating private sector/citizen/NGO involvement in rehabilitation of the flood-affected people. This question is best posed to them.
Do you continue to head the committee and has peace been struck with the Reddy brothers?
I continue to be involved in building a better future for the flood affected people of North Karnataka in my own personal capacity and as Coordinator of Aasare (Aasare is a public-private initiative constituted by the Government of Karnataka to provide permanent shelter and rehabilitation to the flood-affected families). As recently as last Friday, I had travelled to N. Malkapur and Gillesugur villages of Raichur district to participate in the ceremonies of handing over villages and homes reconstructed by CISCO and HOPE Foundation. My personal foundation - Rajeev Chandrasekhar Foundation - is handing over a fully reconstructed village in Bagalkote district, on 22 September.
What are your thoughts on the mining scandal in Karnataka and do you think the BJP in Karnataka will survive?
Way back in 2006 when I first joined Parliament, I had raised the issue of the need for a more transparent and sustainable policy with regards to exploitation of minerals, not just in Karnataka, but all over India. The current policy framework all over the country directly encourages illegal mining and all of its concomitants, which includes corruption, political influence etc. I have, for the last four years, argued for a reworked approach in granting of licenses and leases that, as its primary outcome, benefits the Exchequer, rather than enriching individual entrepreneurs. Many people, including our Hon’ble Lokayukta of Karnataka, have also reaffirmed this and it is my hope that the Government of Karnataka moves quickly to a policy that ensures that mineral exploitation can only be when the state and people are benefitted the maximum. As far as any political party’s survival in government is concerned, history has shown that as long as the political party enjoys the peoples’ confidence and is seen to serve the people, it shall be voted to power.