Arun Jaitley, India’s finance minister (Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg)

Ex-Serviceman Suicide: Jaitley Wants Politicos To Be Sensitive

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said political leaders should be sensitive while making comments on the suicide by an ex-serviceman, remarks that come against the backdrop of a controversy over a statement by Union Minister VK Singh.

He attacked Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, saying he was politicising the suicide and no one should try to change a personal tragedy into political gain.

"Everybody has to be sensitive... we must appreciate the sensitivity of the person who under stress has committed suicide. I do sympathise with him and all our comments have to be sensitive on this issue," he said when asked about Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh's description of the deceased as a Congress worker.

He blamed administrative lapse on the part of bank for not remitting the entitled pension after he was granted OROP.

The UPA government, he said, had not taken any meaningful step towards implementing one-rank-one-pension (OROP) for defence personnel in its 10 years of rule as was evident from a meagre Rs 500 crore allocation it made for the purpose.

The government sympathises with the defence personnel who committed suicide, but there was not a lapse that OROP was not granted to him, he clarified.

"It obviously seems to be an administrative lapse. It is not a lapse where the OROP was not granted. It was not a lapse that there was some exception made in his favour. Obviously, communication with the bank, there seems to be some gap in that and therefore, he was given pension for one part of the service and not for other part of the service which he was legitimately entitled to," Jaitley told reporters here.

Critical of Gandhi for playing politics over the suicide, he said, "It is equally important that nobody tries to convert a personal tragedy of an individual into a political gain for a party whose fortunes are otherwise sinking." He said further: "It doesn't behove senior national leaders to exploit a tragedy of this kind, particularly in intensive care units of the hospitals. A more responsible behaviour is expected of them."

The government, he said, fully sympathises with the defence personnel and his family who committed suicide.