Pension to heroes of JP movement: 1974 is not 1947

Soroor Ahmed

(The author is a Patna-based free-lance journalist)


Two wrongs do not make one right. On April 27, 2007 the Nitish Kumar government opened a Pandora Box by announcing pension to all those who participated in the 1974 J P movement. Besides, it decided to honour the family members of those who got martyred in the movement. A four-member ministerial team headed by deputy chief minister, Sushil Kumar Modi, has been set up in this regard. It will submit its report within three months and would suggest parameters, procedure and quantum of pension.

In this regard it was argued that the Bihar government has taken a cue from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, when the truth is that the move came within 48 hours of railway minister, Lalu Yadav's reported remarks in favour of Emergency. Though he later lambasted the Press for deliberately distorting his statement and went on to clarify what he actually said his bete noire the Bihar chief minister, Nitish Kumar, by announcing pension to those who participated hurriedly tried to capitalize on the situation.

The truth is that this move may go down as the most absurd decision taken by the Nitish Kumar government in its first 520 days in the office. How can the chief minister equate the 1974 movement with the freedom struggle When there was absolute unanimity regarding the freedom movement and nobody ever opposed it there is no dearth of people and many of them are today extremely close to Nitish Kumar and are senior ministers in his cabinet who think that the JP movement was nothing but a sinister move to destabilize the country and the state.

If Indira Gandhi introduced freedom-fighter pension in 1972 just as a populist move Nitish took this step 33 years after the movement was launched. There is no such significance of the date, April 27, in the JP movement. If Nitish is really serious he should have announce this on March 18, when the movement was actually launched.

Just as Jawaharlal Nehru never toyed with the idea of giving pension stalwarts like Karpoori Thakur and Ram Sundar Das both served as the chief minister after the movement never deemed it fit to reward those who participated in the movement.

Not only will the new pension scheme create a huge problem and will be an additional burden to the state exchequer a new type of pension racket culture may soon start flourishing. Just as Indira Gandhi started giving pension only when a sizeable chunk of freedom fighters were already dead Nitish Kumar announced this scheme when many of the leading lights of the 1974 movement are no more. They have either died or simply faded away into oblivion.

Men like Nitish, Lalu, Ram Bilas Paswan, Sushil Modi etc were the real beneficiaries as the railway minister candidly admitted recently but there were men like Rasoash who died a decade back with hardly any money to get treated. It was after much effort that some arrangement was made in a private nursing home in Patna, but that not with the effort of Nitish Kumar.

And there is another set of followers of Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan, who had got themselves so much embroiled in the NGO culture, that they have no time for any other thing. They may not even accept this peanut amount of pension.

But the real problem is: who would be given the pension and who not. Whether those now in Ram Bilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party or Lalu Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal get the pension or not. After all they are now with the party which imposed Emergency and crushed that movement. On the other hand how morally appropriate it would be for Nitish Kumar and his National Democratic Alliance government to distribute pension to those who participated in the 1974 movement with Maneka Gandhi on the one side and Bihar's present water resources minister, Ramashray Prasad Singh and former chief minister, Jaganath Mishra, on the other. At the national and state level these are the persons most others are already dead who did their utmost to crush the 1974 movement. Mishra's son Nitish Mishra CM namesake is in the Bihar cabinet.

It would be better for Nitish Kumar to spend money on the real poor of the state rather than waste on those, who once stood for a cause, but later in their life turned crook and turncoat. And there are many real heroes of 1974 who would never accept Nitish's offer, even if they are having hand to mouth existence.






The Advertising Network