The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Punjab affairs incharge, Shanta Kumar on Sunday suggested that Punjab’s Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP government should “rationalise” its power subsidy bill, which has crossed Rs 5,000 crore a year, to ease the state’s financial constraints. He also asked the Parkash Singh Badalled government to cut non-plan expenditure.
“Punjab government is running in five-star manner, making huge expenditures. We need to cut unwanted expenses,” said Shanta, Lok Sabha member from Kangra in Himachal Pradesh. “Poor farmers should get free power; but why the big ones who can afford to pay?”
Shanta’s comments come at a time when the state government has increased valueadded tax (VAT) on diesel and some other products with the stated goal of pumping the additional revenue into development works. Recently CM Badal had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to seek a package of Rs 1 lakh crore from the Centre.
Comparing the Punjab government with the Congress’ Himachal Pradesh government, Shanta said both were suffering “due to top-heavy administration”: “Both the states are hollow financially, and have turned bankrupt; but are blaming the Centre for not helping.”
Defending the BJP-led NDA regime at the Centre, Shanta said financial packages “can’t be just sent to the states”. He added, “There is a policy and legal provisions to be followed. Centre is giving to the states whatever is possible.”
“Punjab government needs to take strong corrective steps and adopt strict financial discipline, keeping in mind that it is a government for the poor and needy… Every day farmers are committing suicides and people sleep on an empty stomach. The government’s actions should speak that it’s working for their benefit,” he added.
“Ministers and the state’s bureaucracy are making huge expenditures on cars and tours. That needs to be cut drastically,” Shanta further commented.
SAD SHOULD ‘TAKE ALONG’ BJP MINISTERS
BJP veteran Shanta Kumar also said that the SAD leaders, in their visit the central ministers and the PM for funds, must take along BJP ministers “who are a part of the state government and are handling important portfolios of industries and local bodies”.
“That would show senior leaders at the Centre that the coalition works in cohesion, and that BJP ministers are also respected in the coalition,” added Shanta.
In the past three months, CM Parkash Singh Badal and his son and deputy Sukhbir Singh Badal have met PM Narendra Modi twice and also other BJP leaders heading different departments. But the Punjab unit leaders of the BJP have repeatedly said they also be kept in the loop.