The Punjab Congress on Tuesday took on the SAD-BJP government on the issue of distribution of scholarships to matric and post-matric students of scheduled castes category besides its alleged failure to address the rising unemployment, in the budget session in the state assembly.
Congress MLA Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, during the question hour, asked minister for welfare of SCs and BCs, Gulzar Singh Ranike, about the total amount disbursed to the matric and post-matric students belonging to scheduled castes in the past three years.
Bajwa also wanted to know from the minister about the year-wise share of the Centre as well as that of the state government in the amount disbursed since 2012.
Ranike informed the House that the government had disbursed Rs 376.87 crore in scholarships to both matric and post-matric students of the scheduled castes for the year 2014-15. He also gave details of the scholarships distributed to the students in the previous years.
Not satisfied by Ranike’s reply, Congress Legislature Party leader Sunil Jakhar claimed that the figure being quoted by the minister was incorrect.
“This is a 100% centrally sponsored scheme for which the state government’s liability is Rs 60.8 crore. For the year 2014-15, the Centre released only Rs 149.67 crore. The remaining amount, which the minister quoted, was actually meant for the year 2013-14, which is being distributed to the SC students in the current financial year, 2014-15.
Even Union minister Vijay Kumar Sampla had made a statement that Rs 149 crore had been released by the Centre,” Jakhar said, while asking the minister to inform the House as to when the Punjab government had received the money from the Centre.
Ranike said he had already given a detailed reply and if Jakhar wanted more information he should meet him in his chamber and should not politicise the issue. Jakhar even called the ministers and MLAs sitting in the House belonging to both treasury benches and the opposition to raise their voice in favour of the SC students.
Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal told Jakhar that the latter always brought politics into the issues during discussions. “You are the leader of the opposition. The minister has already given the reply. He does not have a ready reply to the queries raised by you,” Sukhbir said.
Jakhar also asked minister for employment generation and training Ajit Singh Kohar as to how many jobs the state government had provided to the unemployed during the past two years. Jakhar wanted to know as to how many unemployed were there in Punjab as per the government records.
Kohar replied that during the past two years the government had provided jobs to 36,138 unemployed, and as per the government record, there were 3.66 lakh people registered as unemployed.
Jakhar, while waving the SAD manifesto in the House, reminded the government that they had promised 10 lakh jobs in five years, according to which, two lakh jobs should have been provided to the unemployed in Punjab every year, which unfortunately had not happened.
Jakhar said the government, according to rules, should also provide Rs 150 monthly allowance to a matric unemployed who had been registered for more than three years and Rs 200 to the post-matric unemployed.
“The government provided allowance to only 309 unemployed in 2013-14, and to 352 people till December in 2014-15. I am not yet talking about the employability allowance of Rs 1,000 which the SAD had promised in its manifesto,” Jakhar said.
Zero hour or question hour
Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal stood up saying he had one request to make to Jakhar. “Why do you try to make zero hour of every question hour? It is not a good practice,” Badal told Jakhar. Later, the Speaker told the opposition to raise such issues during their response to the budget speech of the finance minister.