Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Wednesday said he had “done his best” for the state in the nine years of the SAD-BJP rule and had left the electoral outcome of his work to fate.
Addressing a press briefing on completing nine years in office here, Sukhbir said he is “neither worried nor tense” about the changed political scenario following the emergence of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as a third force to reckon with in the next assembly elections.
“Worrying gets you nothing. If it is in my fate to win, I will despite everything, and if it is fated that I have to go, no one can change that. But I definitely gave it my best shot,” he said.
“I am driven to fight till the last vote is counted not because I want to create history but because I am convinced that no other party, including the AAP, can take the state forward. While the Congress lacks vision, the AAP will take Punjab back by 10 years. The AAP is driven by negative, regressive people and they believe in fishing in squalor than set forth on an agenda of development,” he said.
Pulling out all stops to tom-tom his achievements, Sukhbir gave an hour-long presentation on the state of Punjab’s economy, claiming that the state is neither “bankrupt” nor in the grip of drugs. “It is unfortunate that the opposition has in the past nine years hit out not at the SAD as a political party but the state’s people. They have declared that the people of the state are into drugs and no development has taken place because the state has no money.”
Comparing Punjab with other states, Sukhbir said Punjab had topped the development index during these years and is among the top five states in terms of contribution to the GDP. While a large part of the comparison in Sukhbir’s presentation was with the Congress rule (2002-2007), he cited figures to show how Punjab had cheaper power than most states, including Delhi, the state ruled by “our guest from Delhi” referring to Arvind Kejriwal, the AAP convener, who just ended his five-day tour of Punjab.
Saying Kejriwal should be “thankful” to Punjab Police, Sukhbir said Punjab Police had confiscated huge quantities of narcotics smuggled from across the international border that were to be delivered in other states, including Delhi.”
He rued that the central grants and devolution of taxes was discriminatory to Punjab, admitting, however, that the BJP in the Centre was now helping the state.
Sukhbir speak on industry
Ayurveda firm Patanjali has shown a keen interest to set up a food processing unit in Ludhiana; besides, ITC is expanding its operations at the food park in Kapurthala from Rs 1,400 crore to Rs 2,000 crore to become Asia’s biggest food processing plant.
Punjab is among the least indebted states; some debt is important for stimulating economy. At Rs 1.12 lakh crore of debt, it had increased by 83% since 2009 in Punjab, while it increased by 167% in Haryana during the same period, and 91% in Gujarat.
On VAT collection
Punjab’s VAT collection increased from Rs 5,136 crore to Rs 15,454 during the past nine years.
On road infrastructure
No other state in India has so many four- and six-lane roads criss-crossing as Punjab.
On excise collection
During the Congress rule in the state, the excise collections were Rs 1,429 crore in 2002, which decreased to Rs 1,368 crore by 2007. In contrast, by the end of the first term of the SAD-BJP rule, the excise collections jumped to Rs 2,755 crore and were expected to be Rs 5,100 crore this year.