PunjabPolls | Congress manifesto released; promises vision and commitment
For a party who has been out of power for a decade in Punjab, Congress’ manifesto promised a hell lot.
The manifesto was released on Monday by former prime minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi along with state party chief Captain Amarinder Singh and simultaneously in Chandigarh by manifesto committee convener Manpreet Badal, who said the bonanza will cost the state exchequer Rs 10,000 crore annually.
Releasing the manifesto, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hit out at the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP government: “The challenge before Punjab is to rise above all this din and recognise that the people of Punjab need a better tomorrow. This election manifesto is a forward-looking visionary document, which promises the people that we will undo the damage done to the Punjab economy by the State government in the last 10 years,” he said.
Praising the Congress’s CM face for Punjab, Dr. Singh described Capt. Amarinder Singh as a leader of great vision with a wealth of experience and commitment to the cause of development in Punjab.
The SAD-BJP government had damaged the economy and polity of Punjab, he said, while promising that “Amarinder’s government will undo all this damage and set a new pathway… so that people have a higher per capita income, better distribution of income, better employment prospects and better infrastructure.”
The manifesto also promises to bring the chief minister under the ambit of the lokpal. The fight against corruption would include vetting of all government contracts/tenders above Rs 50 crore by an ethics committee.
It said the party will end the “politician-police nexus promoted by the system of halqa in-charges of SAD” and set up fast-track courts for drug cases and confiscation of property of drug dealers.
The 120-page document with pictures of Manmohan, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Amarinder and the Congress symbol ‘hand’, has left no section untouched. Cows may not be voters but they can make a vote bank. The Congress manifesto tries to steal the BJP’s thunder and vote bank by promising to open one ‘gaushala (cow shelter)’ in every block and provide help in running them to NGOs at the rate of `30 per cow, per day. For chowkidars, it has declared an increase in remuneration to Rs 2,000 a month.
The manifesto also includes a 10-page charge sheet against the Badal regime, exposing the alleged “Loot, Boot & Shoot” policy of the SAD-BJP government that also lists out the multiple failures of the Akali “misrule” of the past 10 years.
Not surprisingly, the Congress’s rivals in Punjab were critical of its manifesto. The AAP hit out at the Congress, with Arvind Kejriwal raising questions as to why it had released its Punjab manifesto in Delhi, and why the promises made in it had not been made in other Congress-ruled States. SAD president and deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal also responded negatively. Mr. Badal said, “The Congress has come to represent a party of thugs who collect together on election eve only to fool and loot Punjabis. Whatever has been announced today will be consigned to the dust bin tomorrow.”