Congress MLA Rana Gurjit Singh on Wednesday said that seeking a special financial package from the Centre only for Punjab's border districts was not the right approach, adding that the party should also demand such financial assistance for other states such as Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan and Gujarat which share their border with Pakistan.
Rana Gurjit, a close aide of former Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, expressed these views a day after Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Partap Singh Bajwa had sought an industrial package for border districts of Punjab, especially after the Centre had extended the tax holiday for hill states.
According to Rana Gurjit, the union government could not singularly pick Punjab out of all other border states for the special industrial package. "In order to have something concrete from the Centre, we need to take all other border states along, especially which are territorially close to Pakistan," the MLA added.
He said the Centre was already giving a special financial package to north Indian states and the same could be extended to states such as Punjab and Rajasthan. "The union government has specially formed the ministry of development of northeastern region for socio-economic development and earmarks at least 10% of the plan budget of the central departments." The money is spent on improving rail, road, air connectivity, power, hospitals, schools, telecommunications, health, manpower development, horticulture, animal husbandry and marketing infrastructure.
Rana Gurjit stated that on similar lines, the Centre should announce a package for border districts of landlocked states of Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat.
The Congress said he had taken up the matter in a similar way with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2009, when he (Rana Gurjit) was a member of Parliament from Jalandhar.
"I and some of our party colleagues will soon write to the PM to consider Punjab and other states for a similar development fund being given to north Indian states," he added.
The All India Congress Committee (AICC) on Tuesday selected information and broadcast minister and Ludhiana MP Manish Tewari and Jaiveer Singh Shergill as national media panellists. Tewari is already the national spokesman for the Congress, while Shergill is a new entrant. Both Tewari and Shergill would also be the official spokespersons on party affairs of Punjab.