Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot and political leaders from both Congress and BJP have extended their support to the demand of universal pension for elderly people.
Mr. Gehlot addressed a gathering of 6000 elderly people from 33 districts of Rajasthan at Jaipur and assured them that government will consider this demand raised by Pension Parishad.
Here is the full statement:
“Give us pension and seek our votes”; “abolish APL-BPL, give everyone ration-pension” were the cries renting the air in a gathering of 6000 elderly people at Udyog Maidan, Statue Circle, Jaipur from 33 districts of Rajasthan.
Responding to the groundswell Shri Ashok Gehlot, Chief Minister drove into the Public Meeting and addressed the 6000 strong gathering. He assured the people that the government will consider seriously the “legitimate” demand raised by the Pension Parishad for universal pension. “I have always supported the issue of social security.
Rajasthan has led many campaigns and movements such as Right to Information and Rural Employment Guarantee and even on the issue of pension my government will keep pace with all other states and address the issue to the best of our ability,” he said.
Political leaders of both parties- Congress and BJP- extended their wholehearted support to the demand for universal pension. Ms Bina Kak, Minister for Women & Child Development made it clear that she will strongly recommend to Shri Ashok Gehlot, the Chief Minister that the state government should contribute 25% of the total pension amount of Rs. 2000 to be conferred by the Central government. "I am confident that the Chief Minister will be sensitive to the issue and will respond favourably."
Expressing solidarity with Pension Parishad, Shri Ghanshyam Tiwari, BJP-MLA assured the 6000 strong participants that he will get this issue incorporated in the party manifesto for the State Election 2013. He exhorted all MLAs and MPs to lend full support to this cause and publically signed a Pension Parishad’s Charter of Demands for universal pension and removal of APL-BPL criteria.
Dr. VS Vyas, Member, State Planning Commission and Economic Advisor to Prime Minister and Chief Minister urged the central and state governments to recognise and meet the legitimate demand for universal pension.
A cross section of leaders representing political parties, policy makers, women's organisation, human rights organisations and senior lawyers addressed the public meeting. Political leaders included Shri Mahendra Singh, Shri Pratap Singh Khachariyawas from Congress, Ms. Suman Shrama and Shri Sanjay Khare from BJP, Ms. Tara Singh Siddhu from CPI (M), labour leaders such as Shri Harkesh Pughalia, Nirmaan Mazdoor Sangathan, Human Rights and Women activists such as Ms. Kavita Srivastava, Ms. Radhakant Saxena, Ms. Renuka Pamache and Ms. Mamta Jaitley.
Having waged a concerted and determined struggled for universal pension for the last 8 months and with as many as 800 having participated in the 5 day Dharna of Pension Parishad at Jantar Mantar, Delhi in May 2012, a network of over 40 organizations representing dalits, adivasis, single women, workers, kisan, rural and urban poor came together, today in Jaipur in a massive show of strength. “We are here to tell the Rajasthan government that they must address this issue in a decisive manner, make pension universal, remove the APL-BPL criteria, and commit forthwith to contributing 25% or one-quarter of the central pension scheme of Rs 2000,” stated Aruna Roy, MKSS and one of the key conveners of the Pension Parishad.
Deposing before the 6000 strong gathering, Narsi Ram visually challenged of Noka district made it clear that “we do not want charity from government, what we are asking is our right to pension in order to live a life of dignity.” The determination of the people was evident in more ways than one. In the central region alone 5000 elderly people have contributed from Rs 20 to Rs. 100 to enable 500 people to participate in public meeting and rally in Jaipur. "To meet my travel cost of Rs. 300 I spent Rs. 100 and ten other people from my village contributed Rs. 200 and made this possible for me to be in Jaipur" stated kamala Hukam Singh from Shankargarh
Speakers after speaker warned all the political parties that they will not be voted to power if they do not provide universal pension and ration. In fact, everyone assembled at Udyog Maidan resolved to make pension an election issue both during the state election in 2013 and central election in 2014.