It took six months of planning for the Punjab Congress to prepare its manifesto for the 2017 assembly elections. But in the end, as far as sports section is concerned, it turned out to be a simple cut-paste job. Oblivious of the existing cash award policy for the medal winners from Punjab, the Congress evidently picked the figures from the BJP-led Haryana government’s sports policy to reproduce them in its manifesto released on Monday in New Delhi by former prime minister Manmohan Singh in the presence of Captain Amarinder Singh and state in-charge Asha Kumari.
Simultaneously, the manifesto was also released in Chandigarh by Congress leader Manpreet Singh Badal, who was finance minster in the previous tenure of SAD-BJP government. Highlighting the points in the manifesto, Manpreet Badal categorically said if elected to form the government, his party will increase the cash award for winning a gold medal in the Olympics from Rs 5 crore to Rs 6 crore and from Rs 2 crore to Rs 3 crore for Asian Games’ gold. Interestingly, as per the sports policy of Punjab, the Olympic gold medal winner gets Rs 2.25 crore and the one in Asian Games Rs 26 lakh.
Haryana government also gives incentives for national and international tournaments, including Olympics, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, and but there is no such provision in Punjab. However, the Congress manifesto says the cash awards for participation will be increased, if it is voted to power.
When contacted, Manpreet Badal, who was the head of the party’s manifesto drafting committee, said, “We have discussed the issue with former sportspersons and included the figures in our manifesto. The comparison has been made with the state’s policy.” When pointed out that the figures has been cut and paste from the Haryana sports policy as don’t gel with the state’s policy, he said, “We want our incentives to be better than Haryana, as many of Punjab players are leaving the state because of the lesser cash awards. That’s why we have compared it (cash awards) with the Haryana.”
When this correspondent brought to his notice that Punjab’s award money was much less than what Haryana is already offering, he said, “Right now, I cannot recall all the points in the manifesto. For this, I have to go through the manifesto and only then I can comment.”