Maharashtra govt scraps emergency pension started by BJP

The Maha Vikas Aghadi government has scrapped the scheme launched by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government to give a monthly pension ranging between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 to those who were jailed during emergency (1975 to 1977). The government has cited a cash crunch and revenue shortfall during the lockdown for the closure of the scheme. It issued notification, on Friday, saying that the cabinet had taken a decision on June 2, 2020 to scrap the pension scheme as a part of austerity measures in the wake of a fall in revenue mobilisation due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown.

The scheme was launched with much fanfare by the Devendra Fadnavis-led government in July 2018 and pension was given to 3,267 individuals since January 2018. As per the scheme, those jailed for over a month were entitled for Rs 10,000 pension and those jailed below a month were entitled to Rs 5,000. In case the person was dead, the spouse was to get ₹5,000 per month. BJP had said a similar benefit was provided by the Haryana and Madhya Pradesh governments, which were also led by the party.

The applicants had to declare, in an application on Rs 100 stamp duty, their arrest during emergency. Later, the government granted them pension based on the declaration.

The government had received additional 1,200 applications, but they could not be processed as there was a change of guards after the assembly elections last year. Congress leader and Minister of Energy Dr Nitin Raut was the first to demand the cancellation of the pension scheme after the MVA government took over in November 2019.

Dr Raut had claimed that the scheme was a misuse of government funds and it should be stopped at the earliest. “The decision was taken by the previous government to benefit members of a particular organisation. Therefore, I have requested the Chief Minister to scrap the decision,” he said Raut. He had hinted that the scheme was to benefit members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

The state government had earlier cancelled a stamp duty waiver granted by the BJP government to the RSS-affiliated Research for Resurgence Foundation. The Fadnavis government had exempted the foundation from paying stamp duty and registration charges on a property transaction.

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