The Rajasthan government has decided to discontinue the pension provided to those who were detained during the Emergency under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) and the Defence of India (DIR) rules, Cabinet minister Shanti Dhariwal said Monday.
Addressing journalists after a Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Dhariwal, the Minister for Local Self Government as well as Urban Development and Housing, said, “We don’t consider them as freedom fighters or as sentinels of democracy.”
The Gehlot government has claimed that its decision will save the exchequer about Rs 40 crore annually.
Madhya Pradesh too had suspended the MISA pension in early January, arguing that there were many fake and ineligible beneficiaries. When the decision lead to an uproar in the state, the state government said the pension had not been discontinued but physical verification of beneficiaries had been ordered.
Beneficiaries in MP started receiving pension – along with arrears – last month.
In another important decision, Dhariwal announced the indirect election of mayors or chairpersons of municipal
corporations and other municipalities.
“This decision was taken in favour of the public representatives’ repeated demand and broader public interest,” the government said in a statement.
“There are several reasons why such a decision has been taken. The main reason is that there is an environment of fear, anger and lack of trust, as well as of violence,” Dhariwal said. “There is an effort to separate a group (of people). We want harmony, love and brotherhood in the society. Hence this time, the cabinet has tried to put an end to attempts to vitiate the atmosphere by the opposition, which happens during direct elections.”
The minister also said that a mayor elected by the people may not get along well with councillors, which makes them feel inferior and weaker.
Citing a case from 2009, Dhariwal said that the Congress won the mayoral post in Jaipur through direct elections then but BJP councillors had majority in the House, which led to disagreements, thus hampering development work.