Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has claimed that the Congress-led UPA government was responsible for woes of the state's farmers. Badal was in town to administer the oath of office and secrecy to newly-elected 170 sarpanches and 1,259 panches of Barnala.
He added that on the issue of displacement of farmers from Kutch, a delegation led by deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal will visit Gujarat soon to work out modalities necessary to prevent ousting of farmers. A controversy over the issue erupted after Kutch district collector issued eviction notices to resettled farmers of Punjab and Haryana by invoking a clause of Gujarat Revenue Act, which had been dormant for years.
Claiming that only irrigation for crops was directly under the state government, it had done its duty by providing free electricity worth Rs. 5,000 to farmers every year.
"Sarpanches are the chief ministers of villages. More than 65% of the state's population lives in villages," he said.
The CM said that to tap hidden potential amongst the bright students of the rural areas, special schools were being opened in six districts of the state to impart quality education to students securing 80% or more marks at the matric exams in the government schools. Badal said that these students would be provided free coaching for entrance exams along with boarding and lodging facility to enable them to compete with their convent-educated peers.
He said he started his career as sarpanch and rose to become chief minister.
"Dhindsa, Maluka, Bhundar, late Beant Singh and many others started their political career as sarpanch."
Punjab rural development and panchayat minister Surjit Singh Rakhra advised elected representatives to take help from self-help groups, youth clubs and community organizations in discharge of their duties.
Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa applauded chief minister for administering the oath himself to sarpanches and panches.