Old pension scheme issue resurfaces ahead of Punjab Lok Sabha Elections

Old pension scheme issue resurfaces ahead of Punjab Lok Sabha Elections

Chandigarh. In a setback for the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab, the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) issue is set to resurface as the state gears up for the Lok Sabha elections on June 1. Over 2 lakh government employees covered under the New Pension Scheme (NPS) have started displaying posters or flex boards outside their homes, urging candidates to declare their stance on OPS.

Despite AAP notifying the implementation of OPS on November 18, 2022, the scheme remains unimplemented, prompting questions from the employees. "We will ask AAP candidates why OPS has not been implemented in Punjab two years after the government was formed and it was notified," said Jasvir Singh Talwara, convenor of the Purani Pension Bahali Sangharsh Committee.

Jarnail Singh Patti, the committee's general secretary, emphasized, "Our votes will go to the candidate whose party can implement OPS in true letter and spirit."

Posters across Punjab read, "I am a government employee recruited after 2004 who is affected by the new pension scheme. My OPS has been snatched away. Only those candidates should come to seek votes from us who can help in the implementation of OPS."

Talwara confirmed that while most employees will be engaged in poll duties, there are no plans for protests or public demonstrations. "We will place our questions before the candidates peacefully. AAP has kept the issue in cold storage, and the BJP will also be questioned," he added.

Karamjit Singh Tamkot, another union leader, highlighted that voters also have the right to question their candidates. "Not only employees, but their families will also decide to vote based on the response from the candidates," he said.

Sukhjit Singh, convenor of the Punjab unit of the Contributory Pension Federation Employees Union (CPFEU), revealed plans for a hunger strike on May 1 at Khatkar Kalan, the native place of Shaheed Bhagat Singh. "As AAP leaders claim to be his followers, we are going to remind them of their unfulfilled promise of OPS implementation," he stated.

Background of OPS Protest

In October 2022, 37 employees' unions in Punjab had staged a strike demanding OPS and announced a 'pol khol' rally against AAP. However, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann announced the implementation of OPS and a 6% hike in dearness allowance on October 22, 2022, which was termed as "Diwali gifts." The protest was subsequently withdrawn.

However, the OPS announcement was not notified, leading to another planned rally in Gujarat in November 2022. OPS was finally notified on November 18, 2022, after which the rally was canceled. The Punjab government then formed a committee to study the implementation of OPS in various states.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the AAP national convenor, supported OPS in a post on social media in October 2023. Since then, government employees have protested against the government's 'betrayal.'


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