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Kamal Nath assures to restore old-age pension if Congress elected to power in Madhya Pradesh

The Congress-ruled Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh have already gone ahead with the restoration of the old-age scheme, while the UPA ruled Jharkhand too has decided to revert to the scheme.

Published: 01st May 2022 06:35 PM  |   Last Updated: 01st May 2022 06:35 PM   |  A+A-

Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath

Kamal Nath. (File Photo| PTI)

Express News Service

BHOPAL: Former chief minister and state Congress president Kamal Nath on Sunday announced that the Congress party would bring back the old-age pension scheme in Madhya Pradesh if elected to power. The state would go to the polls by the end of 2023.

Addressing an event organised by the MP Shikshak Congress (teachers wing of the party) in Bhopal, the septuagenarian politician said, "you all know the Congress's commitment to the old-age pension, which has been proven in the party ruled states of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh already. So it's obvious that what has been implemented in other Congress-ruled states will also be implemented by us here on being voted to power."

The Congress's backing for the scheme isn't new, particularly as many Congress MLAs, including ex-minister Jaivardhan Singh (former CM Digvijaya Singh's son), openly demand the restoration of the scheme in MP. But this is perhaps the first time that the party's state president (under whose leadership, the party has resolved to fight next year's assembly polls) has announced restoring the old-age pension scheme if voted to power in MP in 2023.

With Nath's announcement, it is clear that this promise will now form a key part of the party's Vachan Patra (manifesto) for the 2023 polls, work on which is likely to start soon by the party panel headed by the former deputy speaker of MP Vidhan Sabha Rajendra Singh.

The timing and place of Sunday's announcement by Nath also assume significance, as it comes 18 months before the November 2023 polls, a development which was similar to then Congress national president Rahul Gandhi's farm loan waiver announcement in June 2017 at MP's Mandsaur district, which proved a masterstroke for party's return to power in MP, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan in the November 2018 assembly polls, though the Congress government led by Kamal Nath fell within 15 months only in March 2018, under the weight of internal conflicts.

Moreover, the announcement was made at the programme of MP Congress's Teachers wing, knowing well that out of the 3.35 lakh state government employees (who joined MP government after January 1, 2005) likely to be benefited by the restoration of the old-age pension scheme in MP, around 2.87 lakh are from the teachers' category.

The Congress-ruled Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh have already gone ahead with the restoration of the old-age scheme, while the UPA ruled Jharkhand too has decided to revert to the scheme.

Importantly, during the recent assembly polls in UP, the prime opposition Samajwadi Party too had announced restoring the scheme for social security, if voted back to power in the politically crucial state. While the SP-led opposition alliance failed to return to power, as per political watchers in UP, it certainly dented the ruling BJP's poll prospects in the later phases of the seven phase polls, particularly in East UP and Avadh region.

Importantly, it was the NDA regime led by BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee that had scrapped the scheme in 2003 and later introduced the present National Pension Scheme (NPS) on April 1, 2004, just a month before that regime was voted out of power at the centre.

The prime difference between the two pension schemes is that while an employee has to make a voluntary contribution toward pension by undertaking a 10% deduction from the basic salary and dearness allowance in the existing NPS, there is no such deduction under the old-age pension scheme.



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