Though the Haryana Assembly election is due in the later part of 2024, it seems like the restoration of Old Pension Scheme (OPS) will be a key poll issue in the State as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led government would fight to retain power for the third term
As the clamour for restoring the OPS continues to grow among State government employees, a group of close to 40 government employees under the banner of – ‘Pension Bahali Sangarsh Samiti (Haryana)‘, are on a state-wide ‘cycle march’ in support of their demand to restore the OPS.
The cycle march, which started on June 2 from Nangal Choudhary in Mahendragarh district, will end in Chandigarh on June 23 and a memorandum will be handed over to Governor Bandaru Dattatreya
“We are travelling across the State urging people and political parties to extend support for our demand. So far, we have marched through Rewari, Nuh, Palwal, Faridabad, Gurugram, Jhajjar and Rohtak. We will cover all the 22 districts of the State and on June 23 hand over the memorandum of our demand on the OPS restoration to the Haryana Governor,” Vijender Dhariwal, president of the association told The Hindu on Thursday.
Mr. Dhariwal said there are around 2.94 lakh regular government employees in the State and out of which close to 1.75 lakh government employees are covered under the National Pension System (NPS). “The employees and their families are annoyed with the government as their concerns arising out of NPS have been completely ignored. If the ruling alliance government (Bharatiya Janta Party-Jannayak Janta Party ) accepts our demand, we will be with them. We will start a campaign - ‘Vote for OPS’ - under this, we will urge people to vote for the political parties that would give us OPS,” he said.
The OPS was abolished by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in December 2003 and the NPS came into force on April 1, 2004.
As the election for the Haryana Assembly are closing in, Indian National Congress, the main Opposition party in the State has already started reaching out to people for garnering support by extending various ‘guarantees’, and restoration of the OPS is one of its key poll planks.
The restoration of the OPS was one of the key promises made by the Congress in the 2022 Assembly polls in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh and after assuming power the Himachal Pradesh government announced the implementation of the OPS for government employees, who were covered under the NPS.
The issue surrounding the OPS has gained such a proportion that ignoring it ahead of the elections could be quite difficult for the incumbent government in the State. Interestingly, earlier this week, former Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Jai Ram Thakur admitted that the OPS issue had an impact on the electoral outcome in his State during the 2022 Assembly poll.
Responding to a question – during a press conference in Haryana’s Panchkula on the achievements of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre in the last nine years - Mr. Thakur stated that the OPS impact was one of the reasons behind the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) defeat in 2022 Himachal Pradesh Assembly election.