Former chief minister and permanent invitee to the Congress Working Committee Capt Amarinder Singh on Saturday overruled state Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa's statement saying the entire state needed a special industrial package as it had suffered during the last one and a half decade due to tax concessions to Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
Recently, Gurdaspur MP Bajwa had demanded special industrial package for the border districts, which invited flak from the SAD. The SAD had criticised Bajwa for seeking the package only for the border districts whereas the situation is as bad in other districts as well.
The SAD had also reminded Bajwa that he was not the Congress chief only of border districts but of the entire state and hence should not discriminate in his demand.
Without naming Bajwa, Amarinder said any package that should be granted must keep in view the entire state's economy and not look at only individual districts.
Amarinder said industry across Punjab, whether along the border districts such as Amritsar or places like Ludhiana and Jalandhar, had seen exodus that needed to be stopped and reversed.
He said that given the fact that the agricultural economy was on a massive decline and it had no longer remained lucrative it was necessary that alternative sources of employment were created, and there could be no substitute to industry, hence it is important that a special package for the state was announced.
Amarinder said he had been vigorously pursuing the case for a special package for the entire state as that was the only remedy to strengthen industry, revive economy and generate employment for over 40 lakh unemployed people of the state.
The former chief minister asserted that he had been consistently maintaining since 1998 when he first became the state Congress president that the industry in Punjab was suffering due to the "discriminatory" tax concessions provided in the neighbouring states. He said that as a result the industrial growth was stifled and the industry had either moved out of the state or had stopped to expand and preferred the other states where it got a tax holiday.
Amarinder gets praise from unexpected quarters
The SAD-BJP alliance has expressed "satisfaction" over Capt Amarinder Singh's demand for a package to the entire state instead of seeking it for just one part, as Bajwa had done.
Adviser to chief minister, Harcharan Bains, said, "Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has always maintained that the opposition must join us in raising the demands that concern the entire state.
We welcome Capt Amarinder Singh's move of backing our demand. We were taken aback when Bajwa had chosen to oppose us on this. He had excluded the entire Malwa, Doaba and most parts of Majha while demanding a package for the border areas alone, that too covering only his constituency," said Bains.