Congress’s Punjab manifesto promises to increase revenue, end mafia

Chandigarh/New Delhi, Jan 9 (IANS) Upping its tirade against Punjab’s ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance, the Congress on Monday promised to end mafia, operating allegedly at the behest of Badals, and ensure better revenue generation for the state’s development.

It also promised to end, in a month, the state’s drug menace, which it blamed on the Akali Dal-BJP government, which has been ruling the state since 2007.

Punjab Congress Vice President and former state Finance Minister Manpreet Badal told media, after releasing the manifesto in Chandigarh, that ending the mafia alone would boost revenue generation manifold.

“This will help generate funds required to implement the various welfare schemes announced in the party manifesto. Funds to the tune of Rs 10,000 crore would be needed for the execution of the promises, which could be achieved by increasing revenue generation and reducing government expenditure.

“Eliminating the various types of mafia, operating at the behest of Badals, would itself lead to massive increase in the revenue generation, thereby putting the state finances on the right track and bringing it out of its current fiscal mess,” said Manpreet Badal, the estranged nephew of Punjab Chief Minister and Akali Dal patron Parkash Singh Badal.

The party manifesto, which has been prepared in consultation with former Prime Minister and international economist Manmohan Singh, also promises waiver of agricultural debts, jobs for every household, resolution of the Satluj-Yamuna Link Canal issue, cess on liquor and free eduction for girls.

Releasing the manifesto in New Delhi, Manmohan Singh said: “Punjab has tremendous all-round potential, but it has not been exploited because of mismanagement by the government in the last 10 years. The fiscal situation has been mismanaged in a manner that is unprecedented.”

Referring to the SYL canal issue, Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh said his party’s government would bring a legislation to protect the water of the state.

He also said that innovative measures such as cess on liquor and revenue through mining could help generate funds for employment.

“With the promise of one job for each household, the Congress has decided to take several initiatives, including setting up of employment bureaus across the state under the supervision of an employment commission, to generate and provide employment to the youths,” he said.

Reiterating his promise to revive agriculture and industry in the state, Amarinder said although farm debt is the responsibility of the central government, he would ensure that all debts of farmers in Punjab are waived off on priority basis.

The Congress is gearing up for a do-or-die political battle with the Akali Dal-BJP alliance government and to counter the challenge being posed by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

The Congress and AAP have been accusing the Akali Dal leadership, especially the Badal family, of controlling businesses in sand, cable TV, transport, infrastructure and other fields.

In the manifesto, the Congress has promised to bring in legislations to control the cable network, usher in police reforms, end child labour, to confiscate properties of drug dealers and others.

Other promises include 33 per cent reservation for women in jobs and education, freedom for trade business and industry with affordable electricity, water and sewerage, free housing for SCs, and appointing ex-servicemen as ‘guardians of governance’ to oversee proper implementation of government schemes.