Punjab Congress manifesto: Key takeaways from the poll promises made by Amarinder Singh

Making a strong statement on demonetisation, the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Monday that the adverse impact of demonetisation would emerge as a major issue during the upcoming assembly polls in five states, including Punjab.

“I had earlier said that this demonetisation move would impact the GDP and now it’s visible on ground. Demonetisation would emerge as a major issue during the state assembly elections including Punjab,” Singh emphasised, while releasing the election manifesto of the Punjab Congress at the party’s headquarters in New Delhi on Monday.

Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh. AFP

Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh. AFP

Breaking his silence on the central government’s demonetisation move, the former prime minister in November 2016 had criticised his successor Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the decision to discontinue higher value currency notes. During a debate in Rajya Sabha he had said, “The GDP of the country will decline by about 2 percent by what has been done. And this is an underestimate and not an overestimate.”

Reminding people of his prediction made last year, Singh pointed out, “It has been proven now that the country's GDP will be affected by demonetisation. National income unit of the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) has come out with a statement that GDP growth will be 7.1% as against the target of 7.6%, but this does not take into account the effect of demonetisation.” His statement was then backed by several economists, who too felt that the demonetisation move would impact country’s GDP.

Giving a slogan “Nawan Naroan Punjab Layee, Captain De Naun Nukte” – meaning Punjab’s CM face Captain Amarinder Singh’s nine solutions (read promises) — the Punjab Congress manifesto promises its voters to redeem Punjab’s honour economically, socially, culturally, financially, environmentally and to restore the state its ‘rightful’ place in India.

Through the manifesto, Captain Amarinder-led Punjab Congress has tried to explain its roadmap, if elected to power in the state — from getting rid of VVIP culture to combating drug menace, bringing policy reforms including police reforms to implementation of right to education.

Here are the five takeaways from the Punjab Congress manifesto:

1. War against drugs

Punjab Congress promises to adopt zero tolerance policy for drug smugglers and peddlers, and police officials, politicians and bureaucrats who indulged in drug trafficking. Besides, launching a campaign to educate youth and rehabilitate drug addicts, fast track courts will be set up in every district. Five percent liquor vends will be closed every year and 'Çonfiscation of drug dealers' property Act' will be enacted within 30 days of formation of the Congress government.

“The war against drugs promised in the manifesto incorporated the thinking of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and he would break the back of drugs and hang those responsible for the menace. The way drugs have undone the people of Punjab, nothing else has. Clearly, it’s the SAD-BJP government that has mortgaged the future of young Punjabis to the rapidly-rising drug mafia. A new legislation would be enacted to ensure speedy trial of culprits and to begin with, confiscate their properties immediately,” said Amarinder.

2. Employment generation

The manifesto promises employment through a slogan— ‘Ghar, ghar rozgar’ (A job for every household) ensuring time bound employment. Employment bureaus will be set up at districts for speedy execution of the programme. The target is to provide employment to at least one person in each family in five years from 2017 to 2022. An unemployment allowance of Rs 2,500 per month will be given till a person gets a job.

“Innovative measures such as cess on liquor and revenue through mining could help generate funds for employment, as promised by the Congress in its manifesto. With the promise of one job per household, the Congress has decided to take various initiatives, including the establishment of employment bureaus under the supervision of an employment commission to generate and provide employment to the youth,” Punjab Congress president said.

3. Reviving agriculture

Besides promising an agricultural debt waiver plan, the Punjab Congress has promised to continue free power supply to farmers, raising crop compensation to Rs 2,000 per acre, introduction of farmers’ pension scheme raising the ex-gratia payment to Rs 10 lakh for families affected by suicides, establishment of price stabilisation fund, among others.

“Though farm debt was the responsibility of the central government, he would ensure that all debts of farmers in Punjab are waived off on priority basis. This is the biggest concern of state’s cultivators,” said Amarinder.

4. Revival of economy

The Punjab Congress wants to win back its number one position in industrial growth, which has gone down to 19. Manifesto promises affordable electricity at Rs 5 per unit, subsidised water, revamping Excise and taxation policy, level playing field for industries and efficient mobilisation of revenue from state’s exchequer.

“This manifesto is a visionary document. Under Captain Amarinder, the state will see all-round development with revival of the economy, industry, agriculture and infrastructure, backed by higher income and equal distribution of wealth,” Manmohan Singh said.

“Revenue of Punjab is much below the national average. I am not talking of post-demonetisation period, it was much earlier to that. While, India’s growth was estimated at 7.3%, ours was at 5.6%. Our service and agricultural sectors are suffering badly. Large numbers of industries have closed down and shifted to other states. Infosys and other units at Mohali closed down. The Akali government did nothing. We had got an investment commitment worth Rs. 1.70 lakh crore, which could have led to the generation of 20 lakh jobs, but the process was scuttled by the Akalis when they took over the reins of the state. In our time, Punjab used to be number one in terms of industrial growth, which has now ranked 19. The present Punjab government has mortgaged government buildings, land, hospitals, mental asylum, old-age homes, schools, etc to pay salaries. The state is in acute fiscal crisis. We’ll address issues through state budget, but we also need to have out-of-the-box ideas, as every aspect can’t be addressed through budget,” Amarinder mentioned.

5. Women empowerment

Manifesto promises 33% reservation for women in all government jobs including contractual appointments, skill development of widows of farmers and free education to the children of farmers who committed suicide, free education for girls from class 1 to PhD, formulate state policy on women’s empowerment along with an action plan and allocation of resources, setting up of crisis centres in all districts to help women affected by domestic violence, besides providing free legal and medical aid to victims.

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Updated Date: Jan 09, 2017 17:20:09 IST

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