According to Shah, ex-MLAs from all states in the country and ex-MPs of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are availing pension benefits from the government. (Representational image)
The Gujarat Ex-MLAs Council — a body set up for the welfare of former Gujarat MLAs — on Thursday, declared to sit on a day-long symbolic fast on January 27 seeking pension and the redressal of some of their other demands. The decision was declared by the chairman of the council, Babubhai Meghji Shah, after holding a meeting of the body on Thursday.
The meeting was attended by several former BJP MLAs such as Jaynarayan Vyas and Maya Kodnani.
“We have been demanding the right of pension for ex-MLAs of Gujarat for quite some time now. We have written to the state government in this regard a number of times. However, there has been no response, so we have decided to sit on a symbolic fast on January 27,” said Shah while speaking with The Indian Express. “It is not an agitation, but a symbolic protest.”
According to Shah, ex-MLAs from all states in the country and ex-MPs of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are availing pension benefits from the government. “Gujarat is the only state where ex-MLAs are not getting pension. We have written to the Chief Minister and tried to meet him in person, but he did not meet us,” said Shah.
He added that 329 former MLAs are currently members of the Council. “Total 560 former MLAs have got themselves registered with the Council. Of them, 231 have died and there are 329 active members,” he said.
“We waited till 231 of us died, but still there is no response from the government. Therefore, we have decided to sit on a symbolic protest. Our is a non-political body and we do not make any political comments. There are many ex-MLAs whose financial conditions are not good, who cannot bear the cost of even medical expenses. We don’t mind if the government puts some ceiling on giving pension to ex-MLAs on the basis of their Income Tax (returns) or ownership of land, but not responding to the demands of Ex-MLAs and not having courtesy to meet ex-MLAs (is sad),” Shah said.
He added, “We have contributed to the development of Gujarat. For example, Jaynarayan Vyas has contributed immensely to the Narmada Yojana. Extending pension to the needy ex-MLAs is not going to be beyond Rs 5 crore annually, which is a very small amount in the state budget.”
Other demands raised by the Council include an office in the main building of Gujarat Assembly and medical expenses for facilities at par with the current MLAs.