Five Akali ministers of the SAD-BJP coalition government in Punjab will leave for the US and Canada in the first week of July as ‘goodwill ambassadors’ of the state government.
The ministers will hold a series of meetings with Punjabi diaspora and talk about the achievements of the eight-year tenure of the state government and also its ‘special efforts’ for protecting the interests of NRIs in Punjab.
As per the plan, irrigation minister Sharanjeet Singh Dhillon, rural development and panchayats minister Sikandar Singh Maluka, education minister Daljeet Singh Cheema, water supply and sanitation minister Surjeet Singh Rakhra, Agriculture minister Tota Singh and CPS (rural development and panchayats) Mantar Singh Brar are part of the “goodwill team”.
NO BJP INVOLVEMENT
It seems to be purely an Akali show and there is no involvement of BJP. Revealed as a brainchild of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, the upcoming tour by the ministers involves different teams which will meet various groups of Punjabi NRIs in different cities of the US and Canada. The state government is also involving the officials of Union ministry of external affairs to assist these ministers during their meetings with Punjabi diaspora.
At a number of places, including New York in the US and (Brampton) Toronto and Calgary in Canada, a tentative plan has been circulated and the relatives and friends of the visiting ministers have been asked to book the venues to hold meetings.
The ministers and the deputy CM, who is also president of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), is expected to finalise the tour plan and each location to be focused by a particular group of ministers, by Friday.
Sources said the ministers have been told to foot their bill on their own or ask their NRI friends and relatives to make arrangements.
“We would talk about our government’s achievements and ask NRIs not to spread bad publicity about their home state where they were born, grew up and have their families,” a minister told HT while requesting anonymity.
It was further revealed that the ministers have been asked to take along the data of the issues of NRIs resolved by the state government in recent times. “The government held three sangat darshans especially for the NRIs in Moga, Ludhiana and Jalandhar wherein 176, 174 and 200-plus complaints from the NRIs were received. Out of these complaints, more than 70% were resolved while the remaining pertain to the issues the NRIs have with their own family members in which government can’t do much,” adds a minister.
The ministers’ tour is also seen as an effort by the Akalis to neutralise the impact of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which is being much talked about in the NRI circles. The NRIs are also expected to offer monetary support to the AAP, in case it contests the 2017 assembly polls in state. A major section of NRIs had supported AAP during 2014 parliamentary elections.