At CM’s pre-budget meet with MLAs, chorus call for action against Akalis

Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar’s message for the CM was clear; the Congress govt ‘must be strong and take action against Akalis who during their 10-years in power created misrule’.

punjab Updated: Mar 02, 2018 00:19 IST
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab news,Punjab cabinet,QAkali dal
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh met 72 party MLAs, MPs and ministers from the state cabinet, on Thursday.(HT Photo)

In a one-of-its kind exercise, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh met 72 party MLAs, MPs and ministers from the state cabinet, on Thursday, to take suggestions for the state’s finances, ahead of the budget session of the assembly that is expected to convene in the second week of March.

At the meeting that started at 11am and lasted six hours, Punjab Congress chief and Gurdaspur MP Sunil Jakhar’s message for the CM was clear; the Congress government ‘must be strong and take action against Akalis who during their 10-years in power created misrule ’.

MLAs seek local area fund of Rs 1 crore a year

The CM announced that a major promise of his government — that of giving mobile phones to the youth would be fulfilled in the next fiscal. MLAs demanded a local area development (LAD) fund of Rs 1 crore per year. Issues like the industry’s pending VAT refunds, debt waiver for scheduled castes and higher allocation for education were also raised.

Even as 20 MLAs and MPs kept their point of view , the suggestion was that the government must start development work, as it had completed a year. Party office-bearers told the meeting that a message was percolating to the public that the Congress and the Akalis were two sides of the same coin.

“We must ensure that the state’s administrative machinery does not succumb to the pressures of the opposition party,” went the common refrain.

“The opposition is browbeating administrative machinery. Let us not allow it to continue,” Jakhar added.

‘Expose wrongs of SAD-BJP regime’

Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa reiterated that time had come for the government to start development work. He said a promise of the Congress had been to bring out a white paper on the ten years of the Akali-BJP rule.

“We agree with you (the CM) that there should be no vendetta against political opponents. Act against those who indulged in misdeeds,” he went on to add.

Rs 128 cr a month for old-age pension

After the issue of old-age pension was raised, Amarinder announced the government’s decision to set aside ₹128 crore every month for disbursement.

Finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal, accepted that the first year of the government had gone by without development, due to pitiable finances.

He added things would now start moving as the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) had released Rs 550 crore.

All cabinet ministers barring Charannjeet Singh Channi were present. Senior Advisor to CM Lt General TS Shergill (retd), media adviser to CM Raveen Thukral, chief secretary Karan Avtar Singh, chief principal secretary to CM Suresh Kumar and other officers were present.

(With inputs from PTI)

First Published: Mar 02, 2018 00:16 IST