The idea was to placate the anti-Congress agitation participants and followers of late Jayaprakash Narain by compensating them for their 'sacrifices'. In the event, it has stirred a nest of hornets that are poised to sting the incumbent regime.
Former movement activists, who could not make it to the list of 700-odd pensioners' list cleared by the government, are ready with an action plan to corner it on the issue of corruption.
"Over a lakh 1974 movement activists will undertake a long march to Patna's historic Gandhi Maidan on November 4 to highlight the unresolved issues that JP had espoused so strongly", said Bhavesh Chandra Prasad.
Prasad, ironically, is member-secretary of an advisory council that the state government had set up in January this year to screen thousands of 1974 movement pension seekers to draw upon the government's generosity.
The former JP movement activist is hosting scores of his compatriots at his Vidhayak Colony (Anisabad) residence everyday to fine tune the strategy for the revival of the agitation for probity in public life.
"In the run up to the November long march, we have scheduled preparatory conventions in many districts of Bihar. The first of these will be held in Nalanda on September 13", Prasad told HT.
The advisory council is ready to spring another unpleasant surprise of the government. In addition to 797 cleared so far, it expects to find over 70 times this number to be eligible for pension.
"Going by the humongous response to the pension plan, the committee expects that well over 50,000 persons will meet the eligibility criteria to draw the pension", Prasad said.
At the rate of Rs. 5,000/- per month pension per person for detention under MISA/DIR for six months or more and Rs. 2,500/- per month to those behind bars in 1974-75 for one to six months, the screening panel projection will translate into a burden on the public exchequer of hundreds of crores of rupees per annum.
"It is a good idea to reward political activists. But why just those associated with the JP agitation. The ones who participated in Lohia's anti-price rise movement and all other agitations in Bihar should also be given pension", said JD-U MLA Shambhu Srivastava.
Some irony there?