After the Congress in Rajasthan announced that the old pension scheme will be implemented again in the state and the appointments made on or after January 1, 2004 will benefit, it has opened a new political debate. The Congress wants to attract people through the pension scheme, it had in 2019 promised to give Rs 12000 per month under the Nyay scheme but the Congress lost.
The Central government in 2003 had announced discontinuation of the then pension scheme for all employees that were recruited from/after January 1, 2004.
Congress General Secretary Ajay Maken said, “the Congress started it but the BJP discontinued it and now we demand that the old pension scheme should be restored.”
After announcing the restoration of the scheme, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said, “Other states should also think in this perspective. If an employee gives 30-35 years of his service to an organisation, he should get security for his old age. In 2004, the then government might have taken the decision for some strong reasons but now we need to think on it again.”
The pension scheme for employees has already been an issue during the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav and UP CM Yogi Adityanath had engaged in a war of words over the issue. In 2022, a crucial state like Gujarat will go to the polls while in 2023 Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh will hold elections — the Congress is in power in two of these states.
The Congress wants to shift the focus to the economic prospects of the individual as it has not been able to counter the Bharatiya Janata Party on Hindutva even though its leader Rahul Gandhi had opened up a debate on Hinduism vs Hindutva and tried to corner the BJP.
As per the government data the total number of Central government civilian employees in position as on Match 2018, is 31.19 lakh as against the sanctioned strength of 38.02 lakh and approximately 17.97% of the posts were vacant.
The Union government share in organised sector employment has been on the decline over the past 15 years. In 2012, the Union government employed 8.5 pc of the organised workforce. This was a decline of about 4 pc from 1994.
In 2014, the central government employees numbered 47 lakh, including the armed forces. The military had 24 lakh, about 30% of the workforce, followed by the Railways with a 28% share in employees.
This data pertains to the union government but the state governments too employ large numbers to run the government. Many posts are vacant and many governments have been hiring people on a contract basis.
Rahul Gandhi has been attacking the government for growing unemployment in the country.
“Why did employment opportunities disappear? Who creates employment? Employment is created by people who run small and medium businesses. Employment is created by small businessmen, small shop owners. Over the last eight years, the government in Delhi has attacked them,” Gandhi said, blaming demonetisation and a flawed Goods and Services Tax for the phasing out of small businesses and industries.
“GST was (also) not implemented in the correct manner. Small and medium businessmen were affected. As a result, those small and medium business owners who were providing employment, their businesses shut down. They cannot provide employment anymore,” he had said.