Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh on Tuesday cautioned the government of India against bailing out the Akali-BJP government's financial profligacy in the state without seeking guarantees about fiscal discipline.
The PCC president lashed out at the state government for first bringing Punjab on the brink of bankruptcy and then approaching the Centre with a begging bowl and crying wolf at the same time about Centre's discriminatory approach. "You can't create the mess yourself and expect the Centre to bail you out," he remarked.
Referring to chief minister Parkash Singh Badal's letter to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee seeking package for the state, Capt Amarinder asked, "Why
should the Centre pay for the Akalis' profligacy, particularly when the Akalis have always been ungrateful and falsely accusing the Centre of being discriminatory."
The PCC chief maintained that any financial package from the Union government must not come without conditions and guarantees from the state. "Otherwise, there is no guarantee that the money that will come under the package will not be squandered away as in the past," he remarked and added that the Akalis needed to be taught strict fiscal discipline prior to any packages as they have more than doubled the state debt during the last five years without any proportionate increase in revenue or any improvement in infrastructure, health or education.
The former chief minister pointed out that he had been consistently and continuously forewarning against the wanton and senseless expenditures resorted to by the Akalis.
"And they were doing it all in anticipation of a Congress government coming to power in the state so that it would land us in a fiscal mess," he observed, while adding, "since they are themselves in the government now, they have started realizing what wanton spending meant at the fag-end of their tenure and are now stretching out a hand to the centre with a begging bowl Badal always carries under his cloak".
Besides, the Congress leader added, unless there was guarantee from the state government, there was every likelihood that the money would be misused for various freebies promised by the Akalis in their manifesto with the sole motive of grabbing power, without caring and realising if these were financially viable.