While the Congress is banking on Captain Amarin­der Singh’s charisma and leadership to capture power in Punjab after five years, the incumbent Akali Dal regime is hoping to retain power on the strengths of the welfare measures it introduced.
The Akali Dal is also hoping some dividends from the Right to Services Act that guarantees time-bound delivery of 66 public services and makes people’s interface with the government easy.
Naresh Gujral, MP and a key Akali Dal strategist of the party, said the doubling of state revenues under the Akali regime — it went up from Rs 017cr to Rs ,407cr — had enabled the government to underwrite such welfare.
Gujral said the under the current regime, Akali Dal has managed to expand its base among the Dalit voters, a key social constituency, primarily thanks to the atta-dal scheme under which 25 kg wheat flour at Rs and 2 kg of pulses at Rs 4 per month are given to nearly 1.5 million people. The state has also adopted a generous criteria for selecting the beneficiaries for this — each family below a daily income of Rs 100.
All unathorised colonies that have sprung up in the state have been authorised and the government has promised basic infrastructure for all of them within three months of returning to power again.
Gujral hopes that his measure will improve the party’s popularity in urban centres. Urban seats are contested mostly by BJP, which is an ally of Akali Dal. Nearly 80,000 recruitments in government jobs done by the government also would help, said Gujral.