‘Spare some funds for Ravana too’: Akhilesh Yadav’s dig at Yogi Adityanath over pension to sadhus

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January 21, 2019 3:38 PM

Lakhs of seers and saints have gathered in UP for the Kumbh and the pension announcement by the government at this time is seen as an outreach in the backdrop of the unhappiness expressed by them over the issue of Ram temple.

The statement came amid reports that the Yogi Adityanath government is likely to enrol Sadhus or seers who are above 60 years of age for the old-age pension scheme.

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav on Monday took a swipe at Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to grant pension to Sadhus, saying that the Yogi Adityanath government should also spare some funds for those artists who play the role of Ram, Sita, Lakshman and even Ravana in Ramlilas. The statement came amid reports that the Yogi Adityanath government is likely to enrol Sadhus or seers who are above 60 years of age for the old-age pension scheme.

However, the government soon clarified that it has not announced a new scheme for grant of pension to sadhus and that it will only be strengthening the existing provisions. The government is expected to provide assistance in the senior citizen scheme and special camps will be organised in the state for the purpose of enrolment.

The announcement comes at a crucial time when the city of Prayagraj is hosting the Kumbh Mela, where lakhs of seers have gathered to participate in the holy bath. It also assumes significance considering the Lok Sabha election and opposition’s claim of Hindu appeasement by the ruling government.

The Yogi Adityanath government has already announced that it will be holding a cabinet meet at Sangam, a first in Uttar Pradesh in 56 years. The ministers of the Adityanath Cabinet are also expected to take a holy dip during the ongoing Ardh Kumbh Mela.

Taking a swipe at the BJP government’s proposed measure, the former CM said that the government should provide at least Rs 20,000 pension for the seers. “Sadhus should get at least Rs 20,000 as pension. Not just them, but people who participate in Ram Leela should also get pension. Ram should get pension, Lakshman should get pension, Sita should get pension. And, if you still have money left in your coffers, spare some for pension to Ravan as well,” Yadav said addressing the media on Monday.

The statement of Yadav assumes significance as UP is currently hosting the Kumbh Mela, which is one of the largest religious gatherings in the world and the state government is trying to make the Kumbh a grand success. Yogi government has organised the fair in an area spreading over 3,200 hectares divided into nine zones, 16 districts, and has 40 police stations to maintain law and order of the site.

The move also comes just months before the Lok Sabha elections when the seers are discontent with the BJP government’s inaction on the contentious issue of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. The seers have been demanding that the government bring an ordinance to begin construction of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya. The government, however, has ruled out any such move till the matter is under the court’s scrutiny.

Lakhs of seers and saints have gathered in UP for the Kumbh and the pension announcement by the government at this time is seen as an outreach in the backdrop of the unhappiness expressed by them over the issue of Ram temple.

There are 37 lakh elderly people who benefit from the old age pension scheme of the UP government. Those above 60 years get Rs 400 while beneficiaries above 80 years of age receive Rs 600 a month directly into their bank accounts.

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