iconimg Friday, August 28, 2015

Pawan Sharma , Hindustan Times
Candolim (North Goa), April 09, 2013
The setting may be vastly different, but the SAD-BJP is serving the same old dish when it comes to ideas churned out of its two-day 'vichar manthan' that officially began on Monday. So, palatable or not, the serving read: "Unprecedented development in Punjab". After ensuring that scribes did not stay in the same hotel as the delegation of MLAs and losing candidates, the actual session conceived by Punjab deputy chief minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president remained out of bounds again. When the SAD leadership decided to hold a press briefing, it was in the parking area of the hotel and was addressed by CM Parkash Singh Badal's adviser on national affairs and media, Harcharan Bains.

But apparently there was nothing new that had emerged out of the first day's 'proceedings' that lasted for a session of four hours as against the originally planned twin sessions.


The adviser dwelt on what governor Shivraj Patil had said in his address during the recent budget session. Then he reiterated what the CM had said while calling for scrapping Centre-sponsored schemes and advocating devolution of share in central taxes directly to states.

Even as the state is struggling to meet committed liabilities such as salary and pension, Bains went on to claim that Punjab's economy was in good health and "the overall growth rate is better than Gujarat". Note, Gujarat CM Narendra Modi of the BJP has been projecting himself quite aggressively by claiming massive development there.

The sammelan, the media were told, opened with a 90-minute presentation by Sukhbir on the economy and priorities of Punjab.

While CM Badal presided over the convention, all the SAD-BJP ministers gave an account of their departments. A dominant view was about devolution of central funds. Besides, the oft-repeated call for "genuine federal structure" was another issue discussed.


The spokesperson said Sukhbir outlined the details of "Punjab's success story on the economic and development fronts, with the state exceeding the targets fixed for it by the planning commission in almost all key fiscal denominators". Another claim was that the state "broke all national records in boosting revenues by nearly 400% in just five years, something that had never been achieved by any state in the country".

Bains quoted the CM: "We have not lost a single election in Punjab in the past six years, winning two general assembly elections, Lok Sabha, corporation, municipal and panchayat elections. We recorded thumping wins in SGPC and also in the DSGMC. And we did not merely win but actually swept these polls. This increases our humility and sense of commitment to the people's welfare."

Badal, as per Bains, termed the conclave "useful" and "an opportunity to have an objective look at our own performance and the issues dear to the people.