Come another election and the Mai Bhago Vidya Scheme, of giving away more than 1.50-lakh bicycles free of cost to girls studying in Classes 11 and 12, rolls out again.
When the scheme came out in the year 2011-12, it was the Vidhan Sabha election time, and when on Friday chief minister Parkash Singh Badal re-launched it here, it's near the Lok Sabha contest. The government has released Rs. 41.90 crore to buy the bicycles.
At the state-level re-launch function, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia ignored the presence of Surjit Kumar Jayani, minister for social security and women's and child development, whose department will execute the scheme; and it forced him to walk out.
Addressing the gathering, the CM said the present party in control at the Centre should be voted out and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) voted in for "harmony between the states and the Centre to get big industrial projects to Punjab".
Badal said Vidhan Sabha leader of Opposition Sunil Jakhar and former union minister Ashwani Kumar wee interested in the state's development but their colleagues, state Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa and former CM Captain Amarinder Singh, believed only in vendetta.
The Centre's stringent parameters of moisture content and discoloration had harassed paddy farmers, said the CM, adding that unseasonal rain and hailstorms had blackened the grains. "We have got the union agriculture ministry to send over a team to assess the crop damage and recommend relaxations," he added.
Drunken remark or accident?
Sure the Shiromani Akali Dal didn't want any accidents but one happened when the deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal went overboard with claims about road development in Punjab.
He said the highways and traffic would be so good that "je daaru pee ke vi drive karoge tan accidents nahi honge (even if you drink and drive, there will be no accident)."
Punjab is number two in the country in road-accident deaths, and drink driving is one of the main reasons. The India Road Transport recorded 4,860 fatal road accidents in 2012 in the state, and the figure has crossed 4,300 this year, already. Ludhiana and Amritsar are top two districts on the dubious list.
Asked to comment, Punjab State Road Safety Council vice-chairman Kamaljit Soi, who was present, said: "Drink driving is the biggest killer on roads; the deputy CM must have had a slip of tongue."
Congress spokesperson Sukhpal Singh Khaira termed Sukhbir;s statement "childish and foolish" and "shocking". "Sukhbir is justifying drink driving that is responsible for thousands of deaths on roads. It was an insensitive joke," he said.