SAD-BJP govt's 3rd year review: Mediocre at midterm

  • Ramesh Vinayak, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Mar 14, 2015 10:52 IST

Before the 2012 assembly elections swung in favour of the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance, giving it a historic second coming, it made a raft of promises, describing them as "a stunning range of initiatives to revolutionise infrastructure, health, education, agriculture and employment".

Those promises are now proving to be a headache - as is evident from an appraisal of the third year of the Badal government that has now been at the helm of Punjab for eight years. Measured up against execution, the SAD's glossypaged manifesto reads more like a laundry list of promises - either half-kept or unkept.

At its midterm, one expected the government to go full throttle to infuse new life into Punjab's sputtering economy. Instead, it was bogged down by a litany of crises - the Lok Sabha poll setback, drugs, and the gurdwara panel in Haryana. The worsening alliance animus not only sapped the government's energies, but it also obviated its focus on development. Call it power fatigue or midterm blues, the government appears to have run out of steam - and big-ticket ideas.

There are a few bright spots, though. Among the notable are: A policy on government selling subsidised sand and gravel, success in the war against drugs, a big push to solar power, and rebound on the fiscal front. Also, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal ticked a couple of right boxes on the revenue and infrastructure front. High on his to-do list is the promise to introduce 206 public services under one roof by August which , if implemented, could revolutionise citizen-centric governance.

Yet, the overall performance of the 18-minister Cabinet - as the score cards show - leaves much to be desired. The question is not what the government has achieved so far, but what it could have with the right focus and determination.

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