CPI, Congress question pension for JP activists


Patna : The Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Congress have criticised a pension plan announced by the Bihar government for those who participated in a mass movement led by Jayaprakash Narayan, popularly known as JP, in the 1970s.

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“It is a bad precedence set by the Nitish Kumar government,” said CPI leader Jabbar Alam.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had Friday announced the pension scheme for activists of the JP movement.

Alam, who is a member of the CPI national council, said the move by Nitish Kumar was just to gain political benefit at the cost of the public exchequer.

“The JP movement was not the first and last witnessed by the state. If activists of all mass movements were given pension like this, the public exchequer would become empty,” he remarked.

Bihar Pradesh Congress president Anil Kumar Sharma also questioned the plan.

“It is not proper to provide pension to them because the movement was against the Congress. It will set a new trend in the country,” Sharma said.

The step came as good news for thousands of activists of the JP movement who protested against Congress rule and even served jail terms for it. Under the plan, those who participated in the movement and served jail terms under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) or Defence of India India Rule (DIR) will get a monthly pension.

They will be entitled to a monthly pension ranging from Rs.2,500 to Rs.5,000. Besides, the next of kin of JP followers who died in police firing and in prison would get a monthly pension of Rs.5,000.

The scheme would be effective from June 1, 2009. The state government received a total of 58,000 pension applications and out of those 8,770 were selected.

Former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra said the move was against the Constitution and its provisions.

“It is a joke on the democratic system and will set a bad precedent,” said Mishra, who quit the ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Leading followers of JP have been calling the shots in Bihar politics for the past decade. Among them are Nitish Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad and former central minister Ram Vilas Paswan. But none of them have applied for the pension scheme.

Beginning in Bihar, the JP movement spread all over India and resulted in the first non-Congress government taking office in New Delhi in 1977.