People's Party of Punjab (PPP) president Manpreet Singh Badal on Wednesday said chief minister Parkash Singh Badal's decision to lead a high-powered delegation to the Prime Minister and union finance minister seeking a waiver on repayment of small saving loans was another instance of double standards of the Akali-BJP government.
"Barely 18 months ago, when in my capacity as finance minister I had raised this issue and broached discussions with the (union) finance minister to seek fiscal relief for Punjab, I was vilified by a few individuals in the party (Shiromani Akali Dal) for 'compromising interests of Punjab', and as 'punishment' was banished from the party," the former Punjab finance minister said in a press statement.
"But now, the chief minister doesn't seem to find any problem in reaching out to New Delhi," he said, adding that a similar committee had been formed two years ago. "I was a part of it and so were the chief minister and the deputy chief minister," he said. "Since I was the finance minister, I was asked to find the best deal for Punjab."
After initial rounds of discussion with the union finance ministry, Punjab was told to furnish a detailed plan elaborating how the state government planned to curtail expenditure in the coming years, thereby meeting the requirements of Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act, Manpreet said.
The then Punjab finance department duly submitted a plan for the same, and was successful in convincing the union finance ministry to consider the state's demands seriously, he said.
It was only after this plan was presented that the Centre said that if Punjab could successfully follow this plan of action, the central government would waive the loans, he said. "I then communicated the same (to the Punjab government and SAD) and was termed as someone who was 'anti-party' and 'anti-Punjab'," he said, adding that the PPP had consistently stressed on the need to reduce wasteful expenditure so that the state could avail the Centre's loan waiver benefits.
He said the motive behind Badal's announcement to approach the Centre could mean only two things. "Either it is a red herring to distract the public from the miserable state of finances which Punjab currently finds itself under, or it is a depiction that the reasons given for my ouster from the party in 2010 were false and bogus," he said.