On October 1st, 2023, lakhs of government employees and teachers gathered at Delhi’s Ramleela Maidan to mark a historic day in the movement against New Pension Scheme and demanding for reinstating the Old Pension Scheme. Protesters from across the country joined the ‘Delhi Chalo’ call. Despite the extremely hot and sunny weather, the whole area was reverberating with slogans like ‘NPS-Privatisation Quit India’ and ‘Restore Old Pension Scheme’ as huge batches of protesters consisting of state and central government employees from different parts of the country started reaching the protest venue in the morning. Such was the zeal of the protesters that long queues of people waiting to enter the venue were visible till afternoon. True to its name, the ‘Pension Shankhnad Rally’ (Clarion Call for Pension) made the massive Ramleela Maidan look small in size due to the huge crowd. The number of people waiting outside the Maidan were almost equal to the number of people participating in the rally. The rally was a culmination of a three-month-long intense campaign by the above-mentioned organisations. The massive size of the rally has sent out a clear warning to today’s ruling regime. The government’s response to the popular demand for restoration of OPS can possibly have a significant impact on the electoral outcomes.
CPIML General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya spoke at the rally and said that from the beginning, CPIML has opposed the NPS that endangers the financial security of retired employees. The Modi government is on a spree to sell out all public sector undertakings to private hands. For serving the interest of the corporates, the government is diluting all rights of workers, including their right to pension. While addressing the rally, all India General Secretary of AICCTU, Comrade Rajiv Dimri said that pension is a right earned by the workers by their life-long labour. Denial of secured pension is nothing but pushing the employees into an unsecured future in their old age. The government is trying to trick us by proposing different formulas of pension. Today’s rally has made it very clear that the demand is very simple – restore OPS.
Comrade Purushottam Sharma, National Secretary of All India Kisan Mahasabha (AIKM) also addressed the rally and said that the farmers of the country are aware of the pro-corporate, anti-people character of the government. They resisted the farm laws, but their right to proper MSP is still denied. He added that the farmers movement extends its wholehearted support for the movement of government employees for restoration of OPS.
The need of the hour is that the struggle of contractual workers, the scheme workers and the government employees are integrated in energy and spirit to push back the pro-corporate policy regime of the present Modi-led BJP government.