After its dismal show in the recent assembly polls, the Punjab Congress leadership plans to woo the urban voter in the coming civic body elections in the state with its "ability" to get funds from the Centre.
Congress Legislature Party leader Sunil Jakhar told Hindustan Times that the party would focus on the state's "dismal fiscal health and our strength in getting various developmental projects cleared from the central ministries".
The Congress' move seems significant, particularly in view of the state's poor financial health.
The state government had recently burdened the public by increasing collector's rate so as to bag additional revenue of Rs 580 crore per year.
The Congress leader claimed that increase in excise levies on liquor and the sale of nearly 25-lakh additional liquor bottles this year fetched Rs 600 crore. "These were desperate attempts by the ruling alliance to fill the empty coffers in Punjab," said Jakhar.
"We will impress upon the voters that Congress victory in the municipal elections will not hamper developmental works. We are politically better placed than the ruling SAD-BJP combine to get grants from the Centre. We will present official data before the public," said Jakhar.
Jakhar alleged that the ruling combine had created hindrances in approval for several urban development projects during its previous tenure, since only the state-level committees were authorised to submit proposals to seek grants.
Punjab Congress vice-president and Batala MLA Ashwani Sekhri said that the voters were mature enough to buy the Congress argument on this count. "The ruling party has already failed to fulfill its poll promises like providing laptops to the students," Sekhri pointed out.
In the city to monitor poll preparedness, Sekhri said that he had recently got Rs 11.66 crore sanctioned from the Union urban development ministry for a slum development project in Batala.
Sekhri promised that he would also plead Jalandhar's case for raising Burlton Park sports hub complex at a cost of Rs 250 crore with the Union sports minister Ajay Maken.
He claimed that the state government was waiting for the civic body polls to get over in order to impose new taxes in the coming budget.
Meanwhile, BJP spokesperson Manoranjan Kalia claimed that the Congress would meet the same fate in the municipal polls as in the recent assembly elections.
"The Congress had failed to get even a single project cleared from the Union urban development ministry during its term in power in Punjab. They are living in a fool's paradise," Kalia added.