Lok Sabha election: Punjab CM promises smartphones, lokpal bill after polls, opposition cries poll code violation
Chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh landed into a controversy on Saturday by announcing conflict of interest law, lokpal bill and legislations against red-tape and for NRI rights during the monsoon session after the Lok Sabha polls are over.
Addressing the media to list achievements of two years of his government, Amarinder said unlike Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, which gave away faulty handsets, his government was trying to buy quality smartphones for Punjabi youth and these would be distributed after the elections as tenders have already been floated.
The opposition was quick to dub the announcements as violation of the model code of conduct. “Why has the CM decided to announce the new laws when the model code of conduct is in place? He did not speak about the lokpal for two years. He also promised smartphones to youth soon after polls are over. This is clear case of luring voters and we will move the election commission against it,” SAD spokesman and former minister Daljit Singh Cheema said.
Leader of opposition in Punjab assembly Harpal Cheema said the CM cited financial constraints for not being able to meet many of the poll promises. “What was the financial burden of bringing a conflict of interest law? How much would it cost the state to bring a new lokpal bill and appoint a lokpal? This is clear case of offering inducement to voters and violating the poll code and we will appeal to the EC to take action on it,” the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader said.
Amarinder also did a flip-flop on the proposed conflict of interest law. The party manifesto had promised to bring all ministers, including the CM, and MLAs under its ambit. But after taking over the state’s reins, Amarinder announced it will only include the council of ministers. When asked if it would include MLAs, the CM said it would cover everyone CM downwards, including the MLAs.
On why were the announcements being made after the poll code has kicked in, the CM said he was making them as the media would have asked him about them.
Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar, who gave a comparative analysis of their government’s work vis-à-vis the Akalis, said the CM had tried to pre-empt the questions on poll promises in the party manifesto.
Amarinder said the government will have to seek permission of the election commission on observing the centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre as it will fall in April, when the poll code is in place. He hit out at the Akalis for criticising his government’s farm debt-waiver scheme saying his government can only provide financial assistance to the farmers. “We will do more for them, when we have more money. Their problems can be addressed only after the Centre implements the Swaminathan Commission report,” he added.
‘Pak should permit 15,000 people to Kartarpur per day’
Amarinder said Pakistan’s proposal on number of devotees to be allowed to go to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur was not at all sufficient. “At least 15,000 pilgrims should be permitted to visit the historic gurdwara every day. Also, the poor have no passports and Pakistan’s condition would deny them the opportunity to visit the shrine. Some identification is needed but it could be any other government document,” he added.
‘Any govt would avenge Pulwama’
Asked if the recent airstrikes by the Indian Air Force would benefit the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections, Amarinder said any government of the day, including the Congress, would have retaliated after the Pulwama attack. “Congress governments have also carried out border raids in the past. The Narendra Modi government has simply coined a new phrase – surgical strikes – for such action,” he said.
‘No discussion on Sidhu’s candidature’
On whether local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu could contest the Lok Sabha polls, Amarinder said he can fight if he wants to. He said so far the minister’s name had not been discussed among the probables from any seat.