A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Rs 1.25 lakh crore for poll-bound Bihar, a 'disgruntled' chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Wednesday said Punjab deserves the special economic package far more than any other state in the country.
Modi's announcement has put the assertive Badals - who have knocked at the central government's door several times in the past 15 months pressing for a package - on the back foot.
The CM and his deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal have been demanding special grants in-aids, but their meetings with Modi and other union ministers have failed to yield any fruitful results so far.
"We are not seeking any concession from the Union government…special economic package is our right," said Badal during his whirlwind tour of the Lambi constituency.
The special package doled out to Bihar has given ammunition to the Opposition that is questioning SAD's importance in the National Democratic Alliance.
The chief minister said Punjab had suffered a lot, first during partition and then during the black days of militancy even though it had contributed enormously to freedom struggle, made the country self-reliant in food production and safeguarded the borders from external invasion.
The successive central governments, however, failed to support the state financially, claimed Badal. The Congress governments at the Centre didn't recognise the state's contribution…instead of rewarding Punjab, the Congress governments gave a fatal blow to its economy by giving incentives to neighbouring states which resulted in mass exodus of industry from Punjab,' said Badal.
"I have flagged up these issues with the Centre a number of times. I will again approach the union government for a special package to Punjab", Badal said. "We will leave no stone unturned for getting the package for the state on the lines of Bihar," he added.
SAD neither supported Amarinder nor Bhattal
The Punjab chief minister described statements of former Congress CMs Captain Amarinder Singh and Rajinder Kaur Bhattal who accused each other of winning with SAD's tacit support as baseless.
"The SAD neither gives nor takes support from opposition leaders," said Badal. "Their statements are baseless, irrelevant and highly misleading", he added.
Punjab's long wish list
* Rs 1.02 lakh crore outstanding debt waiver on account of militancy.
*Waiver and refund of Rs 2,694 crore special term loan Punjab paid for fighting militancy.
* Rs 8,000 crore for agriculture diversification plan.
* Rs 200 crore package to tackle cancer menace.
*Waiver and refund of Rs 2,700 crore Punjab paid for fighting militancy.
* Rs 2,330 crore relief package for tackling drought.
*Debt-relief package for economically distressed farmers.