Former Union minister and sitting Patiala MLA Preneet Kaur along with senior Congress party leaders of the district here on Monday criticised the anti-development policies of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government for deliberately leaving out Patiala city from the list of 100 'Smart Cities' project.
Former Union minister along with Patiala district Congress committee president Prem Kishan, leader of opposition in municipal corporation, Sanjeev Sharma Bittu, and many others senior Congress party workers on Monday evening carried out a procession from Qila Chowk to Anardana Chowk and raised anti-government slogans against the state government.
Kaur said Patiala was a city of rich heritage and famous across the state as a 'royal city. "Despite knowing these facts, the SAD-BJP leaders played vote-bank politics. They ignored Patiala and selected only those cities which have SAD-BJP dominance for development so that they could get votes in return," said the Patiala MLA.
She said, "I have failed to find even a single reason why the state government did not recommend the name of Patiala to be developed as a smart city. The government ignored the ancient city and awarded extra marks to the other cities as Patiala is known as Congress bastion," the former Union minister said.
The Congress party alleged that the Punjab government had sent a list of six cities, including Patiala, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Mohali and Bathinda for the smart city project first, but after the Centre government's approval to only three cities to Punjab, the state government awarded low points to Patiala and did not recommend its name for smart city project.
The Congress workers claimed that the state government had awarded only 55 points out of 100 to Patiala for the development and cleanliness, while they had given 60 to 62 points each to Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar and Mohali.
Leading the protest, Kishan alleged that during the Congress tenure, Patiala received the status of Counter-Magnet Area (CMA) under a Central government scheme in order to strengthen the economic base of the city. "But due to political motives of senior Akali leaders, they ignored the city that only shows their leaders narrow thinking on their part," alleged the Patiala district Congress committee president.
Meanwhile, under the Centre's Smart city project, selected cities would be developed with Rs 500-crore grant from the Centre, besides an additional Rs 500 crore from the state government with smart grid system, well maintained roads, smart traffic lights, advanced CCTV cameras installed on traffic signals, good water and sewerage system, and e-governance systems for all major public services by 2022.