The nationwide anti-corruption cry has found an echo in the Punjab Congress manifesto released here on Sunday. The party has promised to set up a statutory vigilance commission, strengthening of the lokpal institution in the state and confiscation of assets of corrupt officials and ministers, besides a restructuring of recruitment agencies like the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) to insulate them from political interference, if voted to power in the January 30 polls.
State Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh, who released the manifesto, sought to clarify, however, that the "Badals are not the target" of the anti-graft measures promised. "Punjab is in dire need of reforms, and we want to focus on bailing out the state," he said in reply to a question.
The manifesto does say, however, that a commission will be set up to investigate 50,000 "false and vindictive" criminal cases against innocent persons. All false cases will be withdrawn and responsibility fixed in each case, it says.
It promises to enact a new legislation to ensure transparency in public-sector procurement. "The objective is to bring all the procurements under a common regulation," says the 38-page document.
As was exclusively reported by HT in a sneak peek last week, transparency in recruitment would be ensured, and existing institutions like the PPSC and the Subordinate Services Selection Board would be restructured to ensure no interference, political or otherwise. Appointments and transfers for the lokpal would also be non-intrusive to ensure no interference in ongoing investigations, the manifesto adds.
Regular, not ad hoc, appointments would be made against vacant posts. Besides promising an online mechanism for grievance redressal, the party also announced that house tax or property tax in urban areas would be imposed on the basis of self-assessment. A "Fiscal Responsibility Act" will ensure that government spends judiciously. Police reforms are also on the list.
On the gender ratio front, the party announced incentive of Rs 15,000 on the birth of a girl child and payment of Rs 5,000 each time the girl gets admitted to Class 1, 6, 11 and 12. The Shagun Scheme amount given on the marriage of girls from poor families will be increased to Rs 31,000 from Rs 15,000. A 50% subsidy on Aakash tablet PCs for students of Class 11 and 12 has also been promised. Cancer hospitals and drugs at subsidised rates find space along with three "modern tertiary-care hospitals".
The manifesto also promises 100% crop insurance and says the reward money for medal winners at the Olympics will be doubled to Rs 5 crore, 2 crore and Rs 1 crore for gold, silver and bronze winners, respectively.