Ahmedabad: Days after AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal promised Gujarat cops the best pay in the country, a panicked Bhupendra Patel Government on Sunday announced a Rs 550 crore annual budget for policemen while this too has met with ridicule with police staff and Opposition Congress calling it a “lollipop” ahead of elections.
The police staff at the level of the constabulary, GRD and LRD, who had been agitating for nearly one and a half years over the issue of revision of their grade pay, asserted this was a knee jerk reaction after Kejriwal assured them the best scale in the country.
They pointed out that the package announced by the State Government was just about an increase in the allowances and not the revision of their pay grades, which were lower than most other states in the country.
The decision came days after Kejriwal announced at a town hall in Ahmedabad that if the AAP came to power in Gujarat, it would give the best pay package comparable to the highest paid police force in the country. Soon after, many cops or their family members had put up a video of Kejriwal announcing this as the DP image on their WhatsApp numbers.
Taking to Twitter, Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel said, "A committee had been formed under my chairmanship on an urgent basis to consider the demands of the police staff. Many meetings were organised and the issue was discussed threadbare with Minister of State for Home Harsh Sanghavi and police officials. Accepting the recommendations of this committee with compassion towards the welfare of policemen an annual budget of Rs 550 crore has been approved for them.”
In a press conference in Surat, to which he belongs, MoS (Home) Harsh Sanghavi stated that an annual hike ranging from around Rs 50,000 to nearly Rs 1 lakh has been approved by the Chief Minister and that settles the pay grade issue of the cops in Gujarat. Sanghavi had earlier said that the Delhi Chief Minister was trying to derail the State Government’s efforts to reward the policemen in the best possible manner.
However, Sunday’s tweet by CM Bhupendra Patel met with angry responses with one after another message calling it a “lollipop ahead of the elections and out of fear of Kejriwal.” One tweet said, “We are not going to be carried away by such lollipops. Kejriwal’s jhadu is sure to sweep Gujarat this time.”
This decision also seems to have triggered a cascading effect with agitating employees of State Transport, Health Department and Power Department reminding the Chief Minister in their tweets about their pending demands. The strongest words came from the Health Department staff, who asserted that when the entire country was under lockdown and in the grip of Covid-19, they went home to home to help the people in distress, but they had not even got a lollipop.
Former Gujarat Congress president Arjun Modhwadia in a video statement asserted, “This is actually a lollipop ahead of the elections. The basic pay grades of the lower most policemen were Rs 4,200 a month in almost all the States, while it is just Rs 1,800 in Gujarat.”
He added, “What the State Government has announced is only a hike in their allowances, which in any case they should get. During our rule in Punjab, the Congress had increased the pay grades of cops to Rs 4,600 more than Rs 4,200 everywhere else.”
Modhwadia said, “We assure the police staff that if the Congress comes to power in Gujarat, it would revise their paygrades to match the Rs 4,200 or even Rs 4,600 that we gave in Punjab. This has been included in our Dwarka declaration also.”