The poll manifesto can wait but not doles from Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh’s kitty. After promising 50 lakh smart phones with free data and calling to youth over a week ago, Amarinder on Tuesday announced one job, per family and a ‘berozgari bhatta’ (unemployment allowance) to jobless youth within 100 days of a Congress government coming to power.
As Punjab’s political parties compete with each other in populism, Captain has tried to outwit both the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) that had promised 10 lakh jobs in five years in its 2012 poll manifesto and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that has promised to create 25 lakh jobs in its 51-point youth manifesto released in July this year at Amritsar.
The campaign titled ‘Har Ghar Ton Ikk Captain’ promises one job per family and comes with a slogan, ‘Captain ne saun chakki, har ghar ikk naukri pakki’. Other than the promise of one job per household to youth between the age of 18-35, the party has promised unemployment allowance of `2,500 per month up to 36 months till such employment is provided.
Party’s nearly 600 shortlisted ticket-seekers have been entrusted with the task of reaching out to 10,000 youth each as part of the campaign. They were given registration kits, with 100 forms each, to initiate the process of training their workers on Tuesday. The campaign will then be taken forward at the district level through these trained workers.
The campaign will reach out to 40 lakh households in the first phase, which will end on December 20. The youth, in exchange, would have to pledge to stay drug-free as part of the campaign. The applicants have been provided a unique ID through a ‘Berozgari bhatta card’, which they can activate by dialling a number and entering the card details for the completion of their registration. Amarinder said a budget of `10,000 crore would be set aside for the initiative.
Captain keeps media waiting, faces boycott
Amarinder kept the media waiting for two hours at the launch of the campaign. The party had sent an invite for 9.30 am for the press conference but Capt did not come to address the media till 11.30 am. It led to unanimous boycott of the press meet by both print and electronic media. The media strategist of the party, Raveen Thukral, later released a statement expressing “regret at the inconvenience” and assured it would not be repeated in future.
‘It’s my last electoral battle’
In a statement later, Amarinder reiterated that the forthcoming assembly polls will be his last electoral battle. He also said this is going to be the last election for party’s senior vice-president Lal Singh also, who was present on the occasion.