Ahead of elections to local bodies in the state, the opposition Congress in Punjab is trying to add fuel to the “rift” between the ruling allies, Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP.
Targeting the saffron party, the Congress on Tuesday accused the BJP-led central government of scuttling 47 projects which were sanctioned funds by the UPA regime under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).
In a deftly-planned move to widen the rift between the allies, Congress Legislature Party leader Sunil Jakhar, while addressing mediapersons at his residence on Tuesday, blamed the BJP of “holding Punjab’s interests to ransom in the game of one-upmanship” with SAD.
“The BJP should not be allowed to walk out of the alliance in Punjab but be thrown out of it for its anti-Punjab stance. The UPA regime had sanctioned `1,200 crore for Punjab under JNNURM. Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal had gone on a foundation-stone-laying spree for sewerage, water supply and waste treatment plants in cities and towns of Punjab on February 27 and 28 before the Lok Sabha polls, but these have since been shelved by the BJP-led regime at the Centre,” Jakhar said.
Terming the foundation stones as a fraud on the people of Punjab before the elections, Jakhar said their party would move court demanding that they be uprooted. “Sukhbir laid foundation stones of 25 projects in two days. There were half-page advertisements in newspapers. We will also seek recovery of the expenses incurred by the deputy CM on helicopters, advertisements and other costs involved in the foundation-laying spree, along with local bodies minister Anil Joshi of the BJP before model code of conduct for elections was imposed,” said Jakhar, who was flanked by several party MLAs.
‘Punjab interests being hurt’
He said the relations between the allies had soured to such an extent during the Haryana polls that the BJP openly accused the Akalis of back-stabbing. “But the turf war is now also hurting the interests of Punjab and the BJP is the main actor in denial of benefits to the state owing to sheer political greed of preventing Akalis from usurping their urban vote bank. Union finance minister Arun Jaitley has denied not only a bailout package but also cash credit limit for procurement of foodgrains.
Contrary to expectations, the UPA had sanctioned funds to Punjab and the BJP-led Centre is scuttling them,” Jakhar said.
Giving a chronology of announcements made by Sukhbir, he said that after the NDA came to power, the state budget presented in July had earmarked `827 crore for urban local bodies.
“But after the Haryana polls, Sukhbir changed his stand and announced on October 16 that all 163 urban local bodies would be provided 100%sewerage and water supply by the end of February 2015.
But Ashok Gupta, secretary of local government, Punjab, had stated in the Punjab and Haryana high court recently that as of now no project was pending under the Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns,” the CLP leader claimed. The reply of the state in the high court came in context of a case pertaining to Abohar, the constituency Jakhar represents.