Punjab deputy chief minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal declared here on Wednesday that “99% of halqa (constituency) in-charges of the party will be our candidates for the assembly elections”. He was speaking with the media at Malowal village on the second day of his sangat darshan programmes in Amloh segment, from where he had on Tuesday declared the recently-appointed halqa in-charge, Gurpreet Singh ‘Raju’ Khanna, as the SAD candidate.
Sukhbir reiterated that SAD yet-to-be-named nominees “already know of their candidature”. There is no secret in it, he added, and added that there will be a more formal announcement too “if need be”.
Of the prominent players in the Punjab assembly polls due early next year, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has released two lists, naming 19 and 13 candidates, respectively, while the Congress is scrutinising the 1,600 applications it has received for the 117 seats. SAD’s coalition partner Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) is silent so far.
At his programmes, meanwhile, the deputy CM laid the foundation stone of a Rs 16.7-crore sewerage project at Amloh and distributed cheques of Rs 8.7 crore for 49 village panchayats.
GST in coming session
Speaking about the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and when Punjab would ratify it for implementation, Sukhbir said the government will decide on the GST in the coming session in September. On the proposed Punjab Control of Organized Crime Act (PCOCA), he said, “The cabinet has asked the advocate general to look into every clause of it and the next step depends on a final report from him.” He also declared that the state government will “soon” come up with a new policy for industries. “We are giving industry cheap electricity which is available 24x7,” he said to a query.
Asha workers ‘chase’ Sukhbir
At Sukhbir’s sangat darshan venue, Accredited Social Health Activists, simply known as Asha workers, awaited turn to get entry and speak with him. But they were first not allowed to enter the venue and asked to come after 3 pm. “We got a chance to meet him and he assured us of holding a meeting in Chandigarh on our demands,” said Kirandeep Kaur Panjola, district in-charge of the workers’ union. “We have been chasing him everywhere. He wants time to look into our demands as if he does not know what these are. Government is just killing time and forcing us to take hard steps,” she later told HT over phone. The workers have been demanding regularisation of posts and fixed salary since long.