Continuing the fight between the Congress and the ruling SAD-BJP in the state over the Centre's recent move to extend industrial sops to neighbouring Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakahand and Jammu and Kashmir, union minister for information and broadcasting Manish Tewari on Tuesday questioned deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal's silence when the latter was the industy minister at the Centre.
"When the industrial package was granted to the hilly states by the previous NDA government at the Centre, Sukhbir was the union minister of state for industry. Why did he remain silent then? Who stopped him from raising the issue in Punjab's interest," questioned Tewari while addressing a press conference here.
He was accompanied by union minister for micro, medium and small enterprises (MSME) KH Muniyappa Guru, who was in the city to hear the problems of the industry.
Tewari alleged that the Badals were shedding only crocodile tears over the issue and always cursed the Congress-led Centre for shifting of industry from Punjab to the neighbouring Himachal and Uttarakhand.
The Ludhiana MP challenged the Badals to name at least one policy following which they had been able to attract the new industrial houses to Punjab in their reign of six years.
"With the present governing style when there is a law and order problem in the state, you can only manage big industrialists to click photographs," Tewari said.
The union minister for MSME also cornered the Punjab government for "not coming forward" to avail the Centre's policy for industry.
"The Centre's role in industrial development is minimum as most of the component needed for industrial development lies in the state subject. We can only assist them on certain issues but Punjab has failed to avail these benefits," said Muniyappa, giving an example of the state's alleged failure to make clusters for different industries.
"In the last two years, since we extended this scheme to financially assist states for making industrial clusters, Punjab has managed to pass only one proposal for Mohali. Whereas other non-Congress states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have availed the scheme to the maximum. Still the government says we are biased against Punjab," Muniyappa said.
The union MSME minister's visit to Ludhiana was a clear attempt by Tewari to woo industrialists ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
Muniyappa failed to make a strong announcement for industrialists and urged them to sit with Tewari and prepare a comprehensive plan of their demands to be taken up with the Centre.