Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal here on Tuesday claimed that the state “is number one and will remain number one”, while dismissing the Congress’ claims that the state is bankrupt and lacks the infrastructure necessary to attract investment.
Presenting what he termed as ‘the real facts’ of Punjab’s growth in various sectors through a PowerPoint presentation at Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), Sukhbir said he had decided to act when industrialists from other states asked him whether they would be able to get workmen as there was a perception that most of the youngsters in the state were drug addicts.
This is the second presentation in the series of Sukhbir’s public conclaves, aimed at Punjab’s image makeover. The first was held at Punjabi University, Patiala, on January 15.
On Tuesday, Sukhbir claimed that Punjab had witnessed record development and growth in every area. He asserted that the state’s governance reforms had been appreciated by the Union government as well as various state governments.
The deputy CM pointed out that the state’s revenue had grown from Rs 3,072 crore in 2002-03 to Rs 16,000 crore in 2013-14. He added that Punjab, which was number four nationally as far as its own tax revenue was concerned, had witnessed a 9% increase in revenue performance against the national average of 7.62%.
He also stated that the state’s GDP (gross domestic product) had increased from Rs 82,000 crore to Rs 3.75 lakh crore and that its debt-to-GDP ratio had also improved to 32.7% against the national average of 68.5%. He alleged that the state was being discriminated against as far as devolution of taxes was concerned.
Interacting with mediapersons on the GNDU campus, he accused the Congress of tarnishing Punjab’s image and called upon people of the state to join hands and give a befitting reply to “those behind this vilification campaign”.
“It is the Congress which has gone around distorting facts about Punjab and labelling Punjabis as drug addicts,” he said.
The deputy CM also addressed the GNDU teaching fraternity, urging it to differentiate between facts and wrong perceptions being spread to defame Punjab and Punjabis. In his address, however, he did not name the Congress.
On the drug issue, he reiterated that despite a record seizure of narcotics by the Punjab Police, some people were trying to politicise the issue. He said Punjab was only a transit route, while the sources of narcotics were across the border.
“Punjab is fighting the nation’s war against drugs but instead of appreciating the state’s efforts, political rivals are politicising the issue, which is unacceptable,” he added.
Meanwhile, stating that Punjab has the highest road density of 133 km per 100 sq km, the deputy CM said the state would become the first in the country in the coming two years to have four/six-lane road connectivity to all major towns and cities. He said all villages, educational institutes, hospitals and government offices would have 4G connectivity by the year-end.
He also announced that all state government offices would be made online under the e-district project by the year-end. He said 2174 sewa kendras were being opened in the state by July to facilitate 226 citizen-centric services for the public.