Report of the Grand Rally for Pension Rights Held at Patna

On December 10, 2023, the Pension Human Rights Grand rally that took place in Patna, the capital of Bihar, witnessed enthusiastic participation from thousands demanding the implementation of the Old Pension Scheme (OPS).

Government employees had dedicated considerable time preparing for this rally. The rally started with the presentation of folk songs by the Jan Sanskriti Manch, by Pramod Yadav, Rajan and Ghalib.

The National Movement for Old Pension Scheme (NMOPS), along with organizations such as Bihar State Non-Gazetted Employees Federation (Gope faction), Front Against NPS in Railways, East Central Railway Employees Union, NE Railway Men’s Union, affiliated to Congress, Indian Railway Employees Federation (IREF) and AICCTU, conducted an extensive campaign across Bihar to ensure the success of the Pension Human Rights Maharally.

This was preceded by a candlelight vigil organized on 26 November 2023. Then, the Front against NPS in Railway (FANPSR) organized a conference at Chapra Junction within 7 days. The Railway employees and state employee’s federation (Gope faction) organized a candle march in the evening, on December 3, 2023 they also organized a motorcycle rally.

NMOPS and the State Government Employees Federation (Gope faction) initiated a campaign targeting state employees, while concurrently, the Front Against NPS in Railways reached out to employees in North Eastern Railway, East Central Railway, North Frontier Railway, and Eastern Railway. This outreach covered zonal and divisional headquarters, including Rail Wheel Factories in Bihar (Bela, Chhapra). The comprehensive campaign extended to Central Accounts, Income Tax, Postal, and Defense Department offices in Patna city, as well as numerous other locations, including distribution of posters, flyers, and leaflets.

CPI (ML) Politburo member, and General Secretary of Akhil Bhartiye Khet and Grameen Mahasabha Comrade Dhirendra Jha expressed heartfelt solidarity with the ongoing nationwide movement for restoration of old pensions. He said that CPI (ML) is known and recognized for its pro-people issues and struggles. He reminded that when “NPS - Privatization Quit India Yatra” started from Bhitarhwa, Champaran, in Bihar on 1 June 2023, CPI (ML) Comrade Virendra Gupta, MLA of Sikta area had flagged off the yatra. CPI (ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya also addressed the historic “Pension Shankhnad Maha Rally” held at Ramlila Maidan, New Delhi, on 1 October 2023 and he said, “Today, on Human Rights Day, we promise pensionless employees from every corner of Bihar that our party and our mass organizations will continue to fight for the restoration of old pensions from the streets to the House.”

National General Secretary of All India Scheme Workers’ Federation Comrade Shashi Yadav said that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Deputy CM Tejaswi Yadav must restore the old pension scheme.

The Chief Guest of the Grand Rally and National President of NMOPS, Vijay Kumar Bandhu, said the “Vote for OPS” movement is electing governments in the states – in Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, and Jharkhand. The formation of non-BJP governments in these states, and the Congress’ postal ballot leads in the recently held elections in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan shows that our cause has won the elections.

The famous folk singer Neha Singh Rathore also sang songs in solidarity with the ongoing rally.

Bihar State Non-Gazetted Employees Federation (Gope faction) General Secretary and Chief Patron of NMOPS Bihar, Com Premchand Sinha, stated that our organization independently formed the State Forum Against NPS in Bihar on December 25, 2018, and it has been fighting to make this OPS issue relevant. He said that the opportunistic organizations which abolished OPS and implemented NPS are also demanding OPS today, and we have to be careful of their gimmicks.

Comrade Rajendra Pal, the National General Secretary of the Front Against NPS in Railways, stated that the Front has been consistently fighting for the reinstatement of the old pension. Our primary objective is to elevate the restoration of the old pension as a key issue in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

CPI (ML) MLAs Dr. Sandeep Saurabh and Comrade Sudama Prasad announced plans for the upcoming Bihar Assembly budget session in February. They stated that CPI (ML) will proactively initiate collaboration with the Congress, RJD, and CPI(M) to collectively advocate for the restoration of the old pension, aiming to raise this matter with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

All India Kisan Mahasabha State Secretary Comrade Umesh Singh emphasized that a significant number of individuals in the army and various government positions are children of farmers. Consequently, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha declared its commitment to actively participate in the nationwide campaign for pension restoration across all sectors.

Dr. Kamal Usri, National Publicity Secretary of National Movement to Save Railways, asserted that frequent railway accidents result from unchecked railway privatization and corruption which are actually promoted by the government itself. To halt this, the ongoing railway privatization project must pay heed to public voices.