Under fire for new taxes in the state, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has passed the buck to the union government.
The Punjab government was compelled to levy the taxes on urban population, since the union government had stopped the release of grants under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewable Mission (JNNRUM) schemes, Sukhbir said here today after inaugurating the sub office of Punjabi daily Ajj Di Awaz.
"The UPA government's blackmailing led to the taxes," the deputy CM said. "Last year, it withheld grants worth Rs 1,100 crore when we declined to levy property tax, and this year, it blocked another Rs 900 crore."
Earlier, after inaugurating the newspaper, Sukhbir said the media needed to be independent and strong. Former Akal Takht jathedar Jasbir Singh Rode; and Budha Dal chief Baba Balbir Singh also address the gathering.
In another function at Bhucho Mando, the deputy CM welcomed many workers from the Congress and People's Party of Punjab into the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). Education minister Sikander Singh Maluka; senior Akali leaders Sarup Chand Singla, Jagdeep Singh Nakai, and Amarjit Singh Sidhu, and the Bathinda mayor, Baljit Singh Beerbehman were present.
'Gas scam next'
Sukhbir predicted more scams of the Central regime of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to emerge. "After coalgate, 2G, Commonwealth Games, a scam in the allocation of gas stocks is set to rock the country," said Sukhbir. He also questioned the moral authority and propriety of the UPA government to remain the custodian of the country's assets even after big scams coming to light.
On the demand of his ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party, that the Prime minister's should resignation over coalgate to end the logjam in parliament, Sukhbir said his party would abide by all the decisions of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
'Narco smuggling: lineof defence breached'
In repoly to another question, Sukhbir asked the Union government do its duty of checking the smuggling of narcotic substances through the Pakistan border.
"Increasing hauls of narcotics seized by the Punjab police suggest that the country's first line of defence manned by the Border Security Force (BSF) has been breached," he said.
The deputy CM also called for uniformity in the laws relating to narcotics. Citing that the sale of poppy husk was legal in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and some other states, he said he had stated at chief ministers' meeting that there was no logic that one state should earn money from the sale of drugs and another should became its victim.
'Capt out to save his chair'
Punjab Congress president captain Amarinder Singh has launched a campaign against taxes only to protect his office, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has said.
"Ihh tan apni pardhangi da license renew karaun lai hai, par ihh honi nahi (this was just an effort (by Amarinder) to renew his (state Congress) president licence, but it won't be extended)," the deputy CM stated here on Monday.
Reacting to the People's Party of Punjab opposition to new taxes, he took on its president, Manpreet Singh Badal, his estranged cousin. "How can Manpreet take a U-turn when as finance minister once, he advocated taxes, and the withdrawal of subsidies and free electricity to the farming sector."