To pull Punjab out of economic mess and put it on the road to development, the Peoples Party of Punjab (PPP) is not averse to form a united front of opposition parties to take on the SAD-BJP alliance in the 2017 assembly elections.
“We are very much keen on the opposition parties uniting ahead of the elections and contesting the polls on the basis of a common minimum programme (CMP) for the sake of Punjab and its people. The agenda should talk about tackling the huge debt burden on the state and also dealing with major issues like drugs and lawlessness,” PPP chief Manpreet Singh Badal stated here on Friday after public meetings at Sohiana Kalan village in the Majitha assembly constituency and at Khasa.
Addressing a press conference, he said there was no harm in opposition parties coming together on the basis of the CMP. “The PPP is willing to take any step that will save Punjab from the grip of the SAD-BJP alliance,” he added.
“However, the initiative for opposition unity must come from the bigger parties and not from a party like the PPP, which is just a couple of years’ old. I do not want to be being accused of riding piggy back or taking advantage of a bigger party for forging an opposition unity,” he said when asked if he would take the first step towards opposition unity.
In reply to a query, he made it clear that there was no question of the PPP losing its identity. “The PPP will keep itself intact within the united front, if it is formed,” he clarified.
“We will fight the polls alone in case there is no unity among opposition parties,” he maintained, while dismissing reports of the PPP being merged with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Manpreet claimed that the anger against the SAD-BJP alliance was rising, which was evident from the hostile reception given to the Akalis in Canada and the United States (US).
“I will not be surprised, if in the next 6-7 months, similar protests, as witnessed in the US and Canada, are witnessed in Punjab,” he said.
He expressed apprehension that Punjab was on the verge of collapse, which could lead to a social tension. “It is reflected in the increasing menace of drugs among the youth and staggering unemployment opportunities,” he said.
He feels fresh policy initiatives are needed to pull Punjab out of the present crisis.
Earlier in his public meetings, the PPP leader sought adequate relief to border area residents for the sufferings they had been through due to their disadvantageous location.
He regretted that nothing had been done over the years to mitigate the sufferings of the border residents, particularly those who are very close to the border with Pakistan and have their land between the fence and the zero line.
Several PPP leaders, including Manmohan Singh Gumtala and Preet Inder Singh Dhillon also addressed the two meetings.