Himachal Votes 2022: Key issue, Arvind Kejriwal’s party hopes to make inroads into HP via OPS

Subhash Rajta

Shimla, October 21

Following the announcement of the restoration of the old pension scheme (OPS) in Punjab by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann today, AAP has reiterated its promise to restore the OPS in Himachal if voted to power.

"The Punjab Government has proved that Kejriwal delivers whatever he promises. In Himachal too, the OPS will be implemented if AAP is voted to power," said AAP state president Surjeet Thakur, hoping to woo government employees, who play a crucial role in deciding the outcome of electoral battles in the state.

With approximately 2.25 lakh government employees in the state — around 1.5 lakh employees are under the New Pension Scheme — the OPS has become a major issue in the poll. While the BJP government has refrained from promising the restoration of the OPS, saying that the best possible has already been done for the employees considering the current financial health of the state, the Congress and AAP have promised to implement it if voted to power. It is believed that the OPS will entail an additional annual burden of around Rs 600 crore on the state exchequer.

To a question on whether the Punjab Government announcement would make any difference to the elections in Himachal, Pradeep Thakur, president of the New Pension Scheme Employee Association, said it was merely an announcement at this stage and they would wait for the notification to see what exactly had been offered.

Meanwhile, the announcement will breathe a new lease of life in AAP's campaign that seems to have gone off the boil over the past month or so, mainly because of the absence of top leaders from the battleground. "The AAP government has fulfilled the guarantee Kejriwal gave within six months. Now, it's the turn of Himachal. Here, too, all guarantees will be fulfilled," said Thakur, projecting AAP as the only employee-friendly party.

Will put burden of Rs 600 cr a yr

  • Himachal Pradesh under a debt of around Rs 70,000 cr
  • Additional annual burden due to OPS will be Rs 600 cr
  • Employees under NPS: 1.5L; under the OPS (appointed before May 15, 2003): 70K
Courtesy: Tribune News Service

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