Lambasting the SAD-BJP government for pushing Punjab backward during its five years tenure, the Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday exhorted the people to oust ‘opportunist’ and ‘inefficient’ alliance from the power.
Sonia, in her first election rally for 2012 Assembly elections in Kapurthala, alleged that though Punjab was allocated Rs 5000 crores under Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS), but the state government had utilized Rs 526 crores only. “It’s a shameful act,” She asserted.
It was unfortunate that centrally sponsored welfare schemes were not implemented by the state government, thus, depriving the poor people of benefits. Accusing the state government for failing to implement labourers’ welfare schemes, Sonia sought explanation from the Badal government on how poverty and below poverty line beneficiaries increased manifold during past five years.
Questioning the claims of development of the Akali-BJP government she asked, if it were so how come that seven lakh more families in Punjab became poor during these five years. “Is this the development you are talking about?” she asked, while adding this government had destroyed and devastated Punjab and it will take long time to retrieve it.
Taking a dig on SAD-BJP government for taking credit for Atta-Dal scheme, Gandhi said that it was 100% financed by the centre. “The school education system is in shambles while government hospitals are suffering from illness since the combine had neither any intent nor any resources to improve these institutions which are meant for poor people,” She quipped.
The industrial units preferred shifting base to other states due to wrong policies, thus, in turn causing rise in unemployment, drug addiction and crime, she quipped.
The farmers, on their failure to get adequate prices, preferred to throw potato crop on roads in Jalandhar and Kapurthala districts, thus, reflecting failure of the state to ensure peasantry welfare. “The combine government has been obtaining loans running into thousands of crores to meet the salary bills of its employees while it was fully dependent on centre to carry out development projects,” She added.
Making a fervent appeal to the people of the state, she said, now is the time to change the government in the interest of Punjab. “It is in your hands whether you want Punjab to progress under a Congress government or you let it decline further under Akali-BJP alliance,” she said.
Terming the Akali-BJP alliance as purely opportunistic, Gandhi pointed out that they were together just to stick to power while they were not adhereing to a pro-people ideology. “You have witnessed how the combine worked in five years,” She commented.
Expressing her gratitude to the tens of thousands of people who were waiting for her since morning in this biting cold, she said, she was thankful to them for having come and waited that long. She told them now it was in their hands to change the destiny of Punjab for better.
Referring to Kapurthala’s historic importance, Gandhi said this place was divine as it was at Gurdwara Ber Sahib near here that Guru Nanak Dev ji got enlightenment to lead and guide the entire humanity. She said that she bowed to the sacredness and holiness of this land.
Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab Congress incharge Thakur Gulchain Singh and congress legislature party leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal also spoke.