Gujarat elections: AAP, Congress promise old pension scheme in state
AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday promised to restore the old pension scheme for government employees in Gujarat if voted to power in assembly elections scheduled for later this year.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday promised to restore the old pension scheme for government employees in Gujarat if voted to power in assembly elections scheduled for later this year.
“Government employees in Gujarat have taken to the streets in large numbers. Their main demand is the implementation of the old pension scheme,” Kejriwal said while addressing a town hall meeting in Vadodara during his day-long visit to state on Tuesday. “I guarantee that when the AAP forms a government, we will implement the OPS in Gujarat.”
Kejriwal also said Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann has issued an order considering the implementation of the old pension scheme in the AAP-ruled state.
Earlier in the day, Rahul Gandhi tweeted that old pension scheme has been reintroduced in Congress-ruled Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh and it will be done in Gujarat too.
“By abolishing the old pension, the BJP has made the elderly dependent from self-reliant,” Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi. “The government employees who strengthen the country have a right: The old pension.”
A large number of retired government employees in Gujarat recently held protests demanding the restoration of the old pension scheme.
The old pension scheme was discontinued on April 1, 2004 and replaced by the National Pension Scheme (NPS) by the Atal Bihar Vajpayee-led NDA government. Employees used to get dearness allowance (DA)-linked pension under the old scheme and the pensioners got the benefit of increased pension every six months due to the periodic hike in dearness relief.
The old scheme was discontinued for all government employees who joined service on or after April 1, 2004, effectively reducing the burden of the pension bill on the state exchequer. These employees were covered under the NPS.
Kejriwal — who is leading the AAP’s poll campaign in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah — also alleged that he was heckled at the Vadodara airport by a group of people.
“Today when I landed at the airport in Vadodara, some 30-40 people raised slogans of ‘Modi’ ‘Modi’. The situation in Gujarat is such that BJP is going to be in big trouble,” he told reporters after coming out of the airport.
The BJP hit back saying Kejriwal has realised that the AAP has no scope in Gujarat elections, scheduled in December, and got an idea of the popularity of PM Modi.
“The slogans of ‘Modi’, ‘Modi’ were raised by common people. Kejriwal has finally got an idea of the developmental work done by the BJP and their leaders in Gujarat. He cannot digest the popularity of PM Modi,” said Yamal Vyas, Gujarat BJP spokesperson. “Kejriwal, who rushes for photo-ops like the one where he took an auto-rickshaw ride in Ahmedabad, has been using chartered flights for most of his Gujarat visits. There is no common man in him.”
Alleging that Kejriwal runs a “corrupt system” in Delhi, Vyas added: “Now he wants to do the same in the rest of the country, but the people of Gujarat are smart enough to see through his lies.”