As a group of ex - servicemen are once again set to resume their relay hunger strike at Jantar Mantar, Major General Satbir Singh (retd), who has been spearheading demands for the OROP scheme, said they will support candidates who are ex - servicemen in the upcoming elections for voice in the legislatures.
The protest is being resumed out of "anguish" against the government, and it is more about the respect that the armed forces should get rather than the money, he said.
Singh also said he has "dissociated" himself from the Fauji Janata Party, which has been founded with the aim of fielding ex - servicemen candidates in the upcoming polls in Punjab and Uttarakhand, but added he will support every such candidate.
"We are hurt and anguished.
On 14th March 2016, we met the Defence Minister (Manohar Parrikar).
He had personally assured us that he will take care of the anomalies, but he said I cannot listen to your demands as long as you hold a pistol at my head, " Singh told IANS in an interview.
"But now, it has been six months and we have not heard a word about correcting the anomalies" he poinnted out.
Parrikar, however, claimed on Monday that nearly 21 lakh ex - sefrvicemen were benefiting from the OROP scheme.
"Almost 20. 69 lakh ex - servicemen are benefitting.
So, this government has kept its promise and actually given the money.
All others merely talked for the last 43 years.
It is not a demand that was made last year, or even during the last general elections, " Parrikar told reporters on the sidelines of the inauguration of the Goa's first multi - level parking facility in Panaji.
The relay hunger strikes at Jantar Mantar were called off on April 29, 2016.
"We are thankful to the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) for giving the OROP, but this is not real OROP, " he said.
He alleged that at the first meeting they had with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who was also the defence minister at the time, they were told not all poll promises are made to be kept.
"When we met the finance minister and reminded his of prime minister's poll promise, he said - Oh General, when we campaign at election time, do you think all assurance that is given is met, " Singh quoted Jaitley as saying.
He rues that their protest was not paid attention to by the political leaders.
"They took notice of the Jat agitation and the Kashmir agitation, but not us because we protest in a disciplined way, " he said.
This time, the ex - servicemen plan to scale - up the protest, which includes a march around Connaught Place, a stone's throw from the protest site at Jantar Mantar, and also a march to Parliament.
One of the major anomalies that the protesting ex - servicemen have objected to is the revision of pension every five years.
The demand is to revise it every year.
"What has been implemented is not OROP but one - time increase in pensions.
If the anomalies are not removed, senior defence Personnel will start drawing less pension than their juniors, a system unacceptable constitutionally, fairly and justifiably, " he said.
The ex - servicemen first started the relay hunger strike at Jantar Mantar on June 15, 2015.
On August 17, 2015, two veterans started indefinite fast, and they were joined in by more ex - soldiers in the following days.
The government meanwhile announced the scheme on September 5, 2015, which took 2013 as the base year to calculate pensions and date of implementation was 1st July, 2014.
The period for review was kept at five years.
On September 6, 2015, the indefinite hunger strike ended, but protests continued along with relay hunger strikes.
A one - man judicial committee was also formed under Chairmanship of Justice L. Narasimha Reddy, retired Chief Justice of the Patna High Court.
The report was submitted its Defence Ministry on Wednesday.
Finally on April 29, 2016, the protests at Jantar Mantar were called off after 320 days.
It will now be resumed on Tuesday.
"India has been disrespecting its soldiers.
Whether it is OROP, 7th Pay Commission, or rank equilisation.
It is unfortunate that soldiers have to be on roads demanding their rights, " he said.
"Government has tampered with OROP definition. . .
It is hurting the dignity of a soldier.
We are not fighting for money, we are fighting for respect, " he added.
Asked about the plans for the poll - bound states after the formation of the Fauji Janata Party by the United Front of Indian Ex - Servicemen (Jantar Mantar), of which Singh is the Chairman, he said he has distanced himself from the party.
"Somebody has registered a Fauji Janata Party, I have dissociated with it, but I will support all faujis (soldiers) who stand for elections so that they become our voice, " he said.
"We will tell the people in the poll bound states to watch out who they are voting for.
Whether the candidates will fulfill their promises of not, " he said. A
Singh added that they are not targeting any single political party.