Blowing the bugle for May's Lok Sabha battle, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Friday asked its team to get into action before Parliament is adjourned sine die by February 21.
Speaking at the SAD headquarters here, party president and Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal told the Akali parliamentarians, legislators and workers to clear the shagun scheme and old-age pension backlogs; and distribute utensils, bicycles and sports kits before the model code of conduct applies.
The Punjab government officials have orders to give blue cards (for various benefits) into the hands of at least 46% population in every district. The card qualifies families with small income, land holdings and pension for subsidised atta (wheat flour) and dal (pulses).
The officials also have to clear the shagun scheme and old-age pension backlogs of up to November, 2013, by January 31; and of up to December, 2013, by February-end. State Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar, however, doubts how the SAD will achieve so much in so little time.
"The old-age pension is pending since July, 2013, and the shagun money for the past three months," said Jakhar, adding: "The attempt to clear more than 10,000 of these cases now in less than a month seems impractical."
The grant of Rs. 280.81 crore for the post-matric scholarship to Scheduled Caste students in the year 2013-14, though received from the Centre, was undistributed since last November, said Jakhar; and the SAD intends to distribute nearly 25,000 utensil kits, each weighing about 85 kilograms.
Class-12 girls who belong to poor families will get bicycles under a scheme that, so far, has reached only eight districts. Giving 15,000 sports kits and equipment packs into youth hands by February 1 is another hard goal.
Commission for ration depot holders
The state government has agreed to dole out commission that nearly 25,000 ration depots had been hot after for distributing commodities free of cost to the blue-card holders. The government had dropped the idea of direct supply through Akali workers as unviable.