The last thing we can expect the grand old party of India or even the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is to play the role of a constructive political party in the larger public interest, even if it means playing the role of a responsible Opposition during times like this when the entire nation stands united to battle the Wuhan virus Pandemic.
Recently, the Modi government decided to freeze the hike in Dearness Allowance (DA) and Dearness Relief (DR) – paid as compensation for inflation- to 48 lakh central government employees and 65 lakh pensioners, for the period from January 1, 2020, to July 1, 2021.
The freezing of DA and DR for 1.13 crore Union government employees and pensioners will save 37,530 crore rupees in the financial year 2020-21 and 2021-22, and this money would be diverted to medical equipment and resources in the fight against Coronavirus.
But the Congress cannot go beyond petty politics, and it once again went on a misinformation spree, spreading rumours and panic about the Modi government’s decision.
Leading the Congress campaign to take advantage of this crisis situation is the former Prime Minister of the country, Manmohan Singh himself.
In his video message put out on the Congress Twitter handle, Singh said, “We should be on the side of people whose dearness allowance is being cut. I sincerely believe it is not necessary at this stage to impose hardships on government servants and also on the armed forces people.”
But the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself seems to be getting amnesiac here, and as a matter of fact Manmohan Singh criticising the Modi government freezing DA and DR, is the proverbial pot calling the kettle black.
He seems to have forgotten two obnoxious legislation, viz. The Compulsory Deposit Scheme Act, enacted by Congress governments in the year 1963 and 1974. A part of the salaries of government servants was actually withheld and deposited in a fund with lock-in periods of 3 or 5 years.
Again, it was the main salary component and not even the DA which was being withheld by the Congress regime of the time. Even more importantly, Manmohan Singh was the Chief Economic Advisor to the Government of India in 1974 when one of those Deposit Schemes were enacted.
How can Manmohan Singh criticise the Modi government which has withheld only the hike and not the DA itself till June, 2021? From July 2021, the rates effective from January 2020 will be applied prospectively.
Today, the country has to support those at the frontlines and even in such extreme circumstances the government has only withheld the hike in DA, but the Congress governments in the past were actually withholding a part of salaries and depositing them in funds with lengthy lock-in periods.
Moroever, government pay scales have gone up tremendously in the past few decades, while they were quite mediocre during the 1960s and 1970s, yet the Congress was taking away a part of the salaries by virute of the Deposit Schemes.
Of all the parties, Congress and Dr Manmohan Singh have no right to trigger unnecessary panic by making a mountain out of what is not even a molehill.