Punjab seems set to witness a battle of white papers next month. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which ruled the state for 10 years, has decided to come out with its own white paper to counter the one being put together by the ruling Congress to expose its “false” claims on development, governance reforms and fiscal position of the state.
The SAD “white paper”, brainchild of party president and former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, is being planned as the party’s riposte to the document being prepared by the Captain Amarinder Singh-led Congress government to apprise the people of the “legacy” inherited by them.
“The focus will be on Congress’ mis-governance during its 2002-2007 tenure, its debilitating effect on the state’s fiscal health and how our (SAD-BJP) government repaired the economy, besides focusing on welfare schemes and infrastructure development. If they are preparing their white paper, ours will be super white,” a source close to Sukhbir told HT.
He said the document would cover the period from 2002 to 2017. The Congress government, which took over on March 16, had straightaway announced to bring out the white paper on the dismal state finances and gross mismanagement of the state’s resources during the Akali rule. However, SAD spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema called the government exercise a bid to hoodwink people.
“They first garnered votes with lofty promises and are now trying to mislead people by talking about the state of finances. It’s a drama. The data on government revenues, loans, expenditure etc is all there. Nothing is secret. The Congress is in the habit of spreading this kind of misinformation,” said Cheema.
While the Akalis are undecided on whether to release its document before or after the state government tables the official white paper, the strategy appears to be to throw in a few numbers and counter the Congress claims with counterclaims to stop it from having a field day.
The SAD had suffered a setback after being relegated to the number three position in the state assembly elections, but has sensed an opportunity, as the AAP, the principal opposition party, is in disarray.
The blame game triggered by the below par showing of the newbie party, confident of sweeping to power in the state, has turned into a crisis after recent changes in the state leadership, triggering allegations and counter-allegations.