Old Pension Scheme in Punjab Revives AAP Campaign in HP; BJP Claims Voters Are Being Misled
According to observers, is intended to entice government employees in Himachal Pradesh, who make up a sizable portion of the electorate.
The Aam Aadmi Party has made a major electoral pitch in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh, promising to implement the old pension scheme in the hill state as well as Gujarat ifwinning the forthcoming Assembly elections and taking control.
“The Punjab government has shown that (Arvind) Kejriwal keeps his promises,” said AAP. “If the AAP is elected, the old pension scheme will be implemented in Himachal as well.” state president Surjeet Thakur.
According to observers, the announcement is intended to entice government employees, who have traditionally played a significant role in determining Himachal Pradesh elections.
The state has 2.25 lakh government employees, approximately 1.5 lakh of whom are covered by the New Pension Scheme. Returning to the old scheme has been a major demand in many states, including Himachal Pradesh, and is now an election issue. The ruling BJP has made no mention of returning to the old scheme, instead emphasising its employee-welfare initiatives.
Sensing that the AAP may be exploiting the issue for political gain, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur has been declaring in election rallies that opposition parties are misleading people and that the Center must approve any implementation of the old pension plan.
The government has been emphasising that reverting to the old pension scheme would put additional strain on the already overburdened state coffers. According to reports, the implementation would impose an additional annual burden of around Rs 600 crore on the state exchequer, at a time when the state government is alreadyhas debts totaling Rs 70,000 crore..
The voters are being misled by the opposition. States won’t be able to put it into effect without the Center’s financial support.Senior BJP leader: “They are merely making it a political issue.”
Meanwhile, the announcement in Punjab has given a boost to the AAP campaign in Himachal Pradesh at a time when enthusiasm was low due to the party’s focus and resources being diverted to Gujarat. The local AAP leadership believes that reintroducing the old pension scheme in Punjab will help the campaign by attracting government employees.
Look at our track record in Punjab, please. The government delivered on all of Kejriwal’s promises within six months. Now it’s Himachal’s turn.Surjeet Thakur promised that “all guarantees will be met here as well.”