Sidhu slams AAP over poll freebies, says people won't fall for populist 'lollipop' measures
The comments come in the wake of Aam Aadmi Party announcing a slew of sops for different sections of society in the run up to the Punjab polls
Chandigarh: Targeting the AAP over its sop announcements ahead of the Punjab Assembly elections, state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu on Wednesday said people won't fall prey to populist measures without the backing of a policy framework, defined budget allocations and implementation metrics. He said true leaders do not give "lollipops" and instead focus on building the foundations of society and economy.
In the run-up to the Punjab polls, Aam Aadmi Party supremo Arvind Kejriwal has announced a slew of sops for different sections of society. On Monday, during a visit to Punjab, he promised that if the AAP is voted to power, its government will transfer Rs 1,000 per month into the account of every woman in the state and dubbed it the "world's biggest women empowerment" programme. Earlier, he had promised up to 300 units of free electricity for each household, 24-hour power supply and free treatment and medicines at government hospitals.
Speaking to reporters in Amritsar, Sidhu took on Kejriwal for making tall promises to different sections, including the youth and women. He said Kejriwal's financial assistance scheme for women and other promises will cost thousands of crores of rupees and exceed the state budget. He said the AAP leader is giving "lollipops" to people.
Sidhu's comments came a day after Kejriwal praised the Congress leader for raising public welfare issues. On various announcements made by Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi for different sections, Sidhu said, "Whatever our chief minister has said... the party will back him and stand by him." He said Channi has done in two months what former chief minister Amarinder Singh could not do in four-and-a-half years.
"His (Channi's) intent is right," the state Congress president said, adding that the chief minister has the party's backing.
Later, in a series of tweets, Sidhu said people won't "fall prey to populist schemes". "UPA Govt formulated policies to transform India's society & economy. Today Punjab needs policy-based structural transformation of its economy. People won't fall prey to populist "schemes" without any backing of policy framework, defined budget allocations & implementation metrics," he said.
The Congress leader said populist schemes are a fast-paced reaction to popular demands, without any thought being given to governance and economy. "History tells (that) populist measures only hurt people in the long run. True leaders will not give lollipops but will focus to build foundations of society and economy," he said.
"Credit games don't last, they put more baggage of debt and depressed economic growth onto the society. Punjab needs a policy-based redemption and soon every Punjabi will be wealthy and prosperous as we were in earlier times. Punjab model is only way forward!!," he added.
Sidhu, a former minister, said in 2017, he introduced the Punjab Entertainments Taxes Bill before the state cabinet "to end cable mafia to strengthen local operators". He said he wanted to end the alleged monopoly of one operator, making it pay the due taxes to the government as "only then the benefit of cheaper connections can be transferred to people".
"Will bring solid "policy-based" Punjab model. Give redemption from monopolies formed by Badals, such as Cable mafia. SOPs will empty state-treasure and kill livelihoods but does nothing to truly uplift the poor and eradicate tyranny of Multiple Systems Operator...," he said.
The Punjab Assembly elections will be held early next year.
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