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No Badal-bashing by Punjab governor, but focus on ‘inheritance of loss’

punjab Updated: Mar 29, 2017 13:12 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab governor,VP Singh Badnore,Capt Amarinder Singh

Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh welcome governor VP Singh Badnore at the Punjab Vidhan Sabha in Chandigarh on Tuesday.(Keshav Singh/HT)

In his first address for the new Congress government, Punjab governor VP Singh Badnore, formerly with the BJP, did not face many hiccups. There was no reference in his address to previous government as either Prakash Singh Badal government or that of SAD-BJP. But the Captain Amarinder Singh government, through the governor, did dwell on its “inheritance of loss”.

Badnore started by congratulating people of Punjab for showing “exemplary vision, maturity and commitment” during the recent elections by giving a historic mandate to this government. Nothing more than a reiteration of party’s poll manifesto promises already approved by the state cabinet in its first meeting, the governor spoke of ending “monopoly” of the powerful without naming Badals or their businesses.

“The state has seen deterioration in quality of governance due to increased political interference of halqa in-charges, forcible occupation of government and private businesses, both in transport and mining. The claims of governance reforms have also not been fully borne out by the plight of the common man. My government will also end cartelisation of cable TV networks by bringing a cable authority act,” he said.

Badnore then went on to highlight empty coffers and rising debt of Punjab. “My government has inherited an empty treasury with revenue deficit of Rs 13,484 crore and fiscal deficit of Rs 26,801 crore. Large borrowings aggravated the financial stress and the total debt has increased from Rs 48,344 crore in 2006-07 (when previous Amarinder government went out of office) to Rs 1.82 lakh crore by end of 2016-17. My government is trying to come to grips with the financial mess it has inherited and the promises made to people will fully be reflected in the coming budget,” he said.

He also spoke of inheriting Rs 31,000 crore term loan due to previous government accepting it as gap in cash credit limit for foodgrain procurement, “huge borrowings” for atta-dal scheme, urban and rural missions and pending pensions, scholarships and power subsidy bills. “My government proposes to bring white paper on development, governance reforms and financial position of state to apprise the common man of what we have inherited,” he said.

No mention of SYL

Without mentioning the Satluj Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, the governor said the previous government “failed” to protect interest of Punjab in the distribution of river waters by not properly defending the legal cases. “The state shall take all possible administrative and legal measures to defend its rights over river waters,” he said. The Amarinder government also gave a miss to demanding Chandigarh as state capital, a staple in all governor’s address during Badal’s tenure.

‘Lip service to Dalits’

Accusing its predecessor of paying “lip service” to welfare of Dalits and OBCs, the Amarinder government promised to ensure 30 percent reservation for SCs in allotment of houses, residential and commercial plots for SCs.

Ombudsman for NRIs

The governor announced a special portal for NRIs and an ombudsman to monitor action on their complaints.

First Published: Mar 29, 2017 09:30 IST