Saturday, November 23, 2002

Mrs. Sonia Gandhi commits in 2002 rally

Mrs. Sonia Gandhi commits in 2002 rally, changes tack during 5 years of rule

CHANDIGARH: During her 40-minute stay at the rally, Sonia Gandhi endorsed the demand for one-rank-one-pension, which was earlier stressed upon by Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh at the North Zone Ex-servicemen rally addressed by the Congress president at the Sector 46 sports complex.

Ex-servicemen have been demanding change in criteria for pension, as laid out by the fifth Pay Commission about seven years ago.

All India Congress Committee Ex-servicemen cell chairman Lt Gen MM Lakhera, who was Adjutant General when the pay commission proposals were being firmed up, highlighted the long pending demand for waiving the 33 years service criterion for earning full pension, since ex-servicemen below the rank of Subedar cannot fulfil this condition.

Lakhera also protested against the 'meagre monthly allowance' of Rs 600 to attendants of handicapped exservicemen. Both Amarinder Singh and Lakhera demanded that ex-servicemen be granted entitlement of free medical services in civil hospitals in areas where military hospitals are not available.

They also pointed out that the present monthly entitlement of Rs 100 was far too meagre in case of ex-servicemen opting for medical allowance in lieu of facilities.

This amount, they said, should be enhanced to Rs 250 per month, at par with civilian employees. Gallantry award winners honoured: Sonia Gandhi honoured relatives of four Param Vir Chakra (PVC) and four Victoria Cross (VC) gallantry award winners— all from Punjab who laid down their lives during various wars, including World War-II.

While the PVC is the highest Indian gallantry award, VC was the highest gallantry award awarded by the British during WW-II.

The first to be honoured was Amarjeet Kaur, wife of Lt Karamjeet Singh, who laid down his life during WW-II, in 1945, for which he was posthumously awarded the VC. She was followed by Gurdial Kaur, wife of Captain Joginder Singh, who was awarded PVC for bravery during the 1962 Sino-Indian war.

Gurdial Kaur, wife of Lance Naik (honorary captain) Karam Singh, who was awarded PVC for his valiant acts in the 1948 Indo-Pak war, was presented a shawl. Karam Singh, who was commanding a section, was severely wounded.

He forced the eviction of the enemy who had made a bid to recapture Tithuwal in Jammu and Kashmir. Similarly, Sukhdev Singh, brother of Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria, who was killed in the line of duty while on a UN mission to Congo, was also honoured by Sonia Gandhi.

She also honoured Sukhwinder Singh, brother of flying officer Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon, the solitary PVC awardee of Indian Air Force. Sekhon was killed while defending Srinagar airfield during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, during which he shot down two USmade Pakistan Air Force Sabre jets with his Britishmade Gnat on December 14, 1971.

The remaining three VC winners, whose family members were honoured, were Jamandar (Subedar Major and Honorary Captain) Gian Singh, Naib Subedar Nand Singh and Havaldar Prakash Singh— all of whom died during WW-II.

Let-down: A slip of tongue by Amarinder Singh left Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Hanspal somewhat red faced. The CM inadvertently called the state president 'district president' during his introductory speech.

Curiosity value: Dressed in a grey suit and white shawl, Sonia Gandhi charmed the large number of people who had come from all parts of Punjab to listen to this 'vilaiti' woman.

Waving occasionally in her typical style, Sonia presented an image of her late mother-in-law Indira Gandhi towards the end of the speech as she urged the audience to say Jai Hind thrice -- each time in a more sonorous voice than before.


1 comment:

  1. Govt gives due consideration for its seniors. Old pensioners are mostly seniors. Future soldier retirees would be younger ones. Seniors, if not considered at par, should not atleast be given lesser pension than (juniors) younger ones. If some one say, there is no budget for seniors, how come there is budget for juniors. Those retiring tomorrow, will become older pensioners, facing same discriminatin against their then juniors. Prime Minister Singh has done many justifyable actions. He can solve this tangle for ever. Budget should be so adjusted and all retiring in same rank and same length of service should get same pension i.e. one rank one pension.