With 1984 anti-Sikh riots back as a poll issue in Punjab, the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal on Monday latched on to the emotive issue by promising to reopen the cases after three decades. Riding high on the hope of the NDA forming the government at the Centre, the party’s poll manifesto released on Monday added more ammunition to its 2009 promise of setting up special courts to punish the 1984 guilty. It has now promised action on complaints on which no action was taken.
Taking a leaf out of the book of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Admi Party that had set up a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the riots afresh, SAD president and deputy CM Sukhbir Badal has tried to counter AAP’s growing clout in Punjab by promising a commission of inquiry under a Supreme Court judge to “expose those who hatched the conspiracy behind the massacre and those who shielded the guilty”.
Both Sukhbir and CM Parkash Singh Badal had opposed AAP’s move to set up a SIT after repeatedly demanding it earlier.
The SAD move is also aimed at disarming Capt Amarinder Singh of the Congress who is on the backfoot after giving Congress leader Jagdish Tytler a clean chit in the riots.
Sukhbir chose Bathinda, the battle ground of his wife Harsimrat Badal, to unveil the party’s manifesto on Monday. Unlike the grand opening of the 2012 manifesto in Ludhiana, it was a low-key affair.
With the party yet to meet most of the promises it made in the “please-all” 2012 manifesto, it is also minus any doles.
The poll manifesto of the Shriomani Akali Dal released on Monday has packaged most of its old promises of the 2009 manifesto.
It repeats the 2009 manifesto promise of transferring Punjabi-speaking areas, including Chandigarh, resolving river water issues in keeping with the Riparian principle, higher share (50%) in central taxes and getting back money stashed in Swiss accounts.
Blaming the Congress-led UPA gover nment for hitting the state’s industrial interests by extending tax concessions to neighbouring states, the SAD, in its manifesto released on Monday, promised an industrial package to Punjab under the NDA rule.
It repeats the sops of t he new industrial policy, 2013, for setting up of new industry or expansion of existing units of 100% waiver of central excise and income tax, capital investment subsidy of 15% and freight subsidy as extended to Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The SAD has also called for promotion of trade with Pakistan.
While again promising to fix the minimum suppor t price (MSP) of crops to ensure minimum 50% profit and providing agriculture credits at cheaper interest rates, it has not vowed to waive agricultural loans like in 2009.
It assures crop diversification through liberal central grants, MSP for all crops, boost to processing industry and compensation for farmers cultivating crops across the border.
Patting its back for bringing a revolution in the field of education, the manifesto reiterates promise of 100% girl literacy. It assures central funding for the Dr Hargobind Khurana scholarship scheme, providing Rs. 30,000 per year scholarship for students scoring above 80% marks.
It talks of strengthening urban and rural health infrastructure and advanced research for cancer cure with the Centre’s help besides a world-class institute-cum-hospital along the lines of AIIMS, Delhi.
Its 2012 promise of star ting international flights from Mohali airport yet to start, the party has repeated the commitment, besides starting domestic flights from Bathinda, blaming the Centre for the delay.
Ludhiana has been added to the 2012 list of cities (Amritsar and Mohali) to be developed as information technology hubs.
Claiming to have made Punjab power surplus, it speaks of central assistance for strengthening transmission and evacuation capacity to export power to other states.
It commits sealing of international border to check drug smuggling.