Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Tuesday demanded setting up of a constituent assembly to rework constitution of the country. He said this in the light of giving more powers to the states, so as to strengthen the federal system. He said this while replying to the debate in the house which took place in first session of 14th vidhan sabha.
"I think our nation needs a new constitution, giving more power to the states, as powerful states means powerful nation," he said on the floor of the house. In his reply spread over three hours, Badal complained that states have no powers but are made accountable on the issues such as finance and law and order. "In the present scenario states are becoming dignified members of a municipal committee," Badal Quipped.
He further added that central government has no source of income of its own, as only states contribute, but only a small portion of revenue collected gets back to the states. "This is ironical, states should have say in ascertaining their share," he demanded.
In his address he further said that five parameters speak of the financial health of a state and in last five years state has improved considerably. Own revenue generation has increased to Rs. 20,000 crore, fiscal deficit has gone down, state's GSDP has improved and planned development has gone up to Rs. 2 lakh crore.
"Debt on the state is of the days of militancy in Punjab when Congress ruled the states directly or indirectly during governor rule. When we took over after a gap of 17 years in 1997, Punjab's debt was Rs. 5,800 crore and before that Punjab never had debt or loans," Badal said, blaming the union government for the state's poor fiscal health.
Badal termed it "criminal negligence" on the part of central government Congress party led government in pushing Punjab towards this chaotic situation. "Furthermore there was embargo on recruitments that worsened the situation further.
"But Punjab is staging a comeback, employment is given to youth, health facilities are improving, business and industry is picking up, state government is spending more money on agriculture research and facilities in hospitals are improving as infrastructure is being built and doctors and nurses are recruited.