New Delhi: A group of elderly people and activists seeking enhancement of old-age pension has knocked the doors of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, whom they claimed agreed with their suggestion that Rs 200 pension per month was far too low.
The delegation of Pension Parishad, led by activist Aruna Roy and Baba Adhav, met Gandhi yesterday and claimed that the UPA chairperson was supportive of their suggestions.
During the discussions, the activists demanded a hike in monthly pension for the elderly and also the removal of Above Poverty Line criterion in giving pensions.
In a statement, the Pension Parishad, which is spearheading the protests demanding hike in pensions, claimed that Gandhi said she was "strongly supportive" of the need for pension for the elderly, and would support the issue, and "do her best to have the demands turned into a reality".
"She said that she was not sure about the amount of Rs. 2000 per month as old age pension as demanded by the Pension Parishad, but had no hesitation in agreeing that the amount of Rs 200 per month was far too low," the statement said.
In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh had described the monthly pension of Rs 200 given to the elderly as "an insult to the dignity of an individual".
The statement also said that Gandhi listened carefully to the woes of three elderly representatives from Maharashtra, Delhi and Rajasthan, who were part of the delegation.
Naza Bai (75) from Maharashtra, Rukma Bai (80) from Rajasthan, and Ram Kumar Gupta (70) from Delhi were part of the delegation and they told Gandhi that Rs 2000 pension per month or half of minimum wages was a very reasonable demand.
The key demands of the Parishad included removal of poverty line criteria with social security to the senior citizens while implementing the pension scheme.