Poll promises of Congress govt in Punjab: So far, half good
The Captain Amarinder Singh government’s full-page advertisements in newspapers on completing 100 days in power would like us to believe it has honoured its every word. But the devil is in the detail.punjab Updated: Jun 25, 2017 12:26 IST
The poll manifesto of the Congress was like a goodie bag. It had a promise for every section of voters: debt waiver for farmers, wiping out scourge of drugs in four weeks, 50 lakh smartphones for youth, one job per family, 33% reservation in jobs for women, free plots for scheduled castes and hike in the amount of pensions and welfare schemes.
The Captain Amarinder Singh government’s full-page advertisements in newspapers on completing 100 days in power would like us to believe it has honoured its every word. But the devil is in the detail.
The government has opened a Pandora’s box on debt waiver, with the farmers and labourers who have been left out already up in arms.
The chief minister’s clarification that Rs 1,500 crore is just the first instalment — of Rs 9,500-crore relief that will flow in five years — will only mean partial relief to a partial section of peasantry, the poorest of the poor.
But the Rs 2-lakh relief to 10 lakh farmers will be of little help to those in debt trap.
And the government is yet to spell out how it intends to reconcile their debts through settlement and end the stranglehold of arhtiyas (commission agents).
Drugs: Where’s the ‘big fish’
As for drugs, though the special task force (STF) set up by Amarinder Singh has yet to catch the “big fish”, it has been able to net some men in khaki. No drug mafia can flourish without police patronage and the STF has been able to put the fear of law in them.
But the drug problem is not just a law-and-order issue and the government has shown no intent so far to deal with its social triggers and health implications. Worse, the number of arrests hide a dirty secret on whether they are drug addicts or dealers.
As for the Captain government’s promise and claim on ending other mafias, they seem hollow, for now.
The transport or cable network policies are yet to take shape though the government has made the first move of cancelling illegal bus permits. As for sand mining and liquor mafias, the Congress will have to spring clean its own closet.
Jobs and phones: Some ingenuity
Funds not permitting, the Congress government has been able hike amount of pensions, ‘shagun’ on marriage of daughters and compensation for crop loss, though not to the promised level. It is banking on a competitive telecom market to deliver 50 lakh smart phones for free!
It has also shown some ingenuity in creating jobs for youth — through Ola and Uber. But it would need to bring in new industry to match up to the lofty promise of one job per family.
But when it comes to reforms that go a long way, the government did not shy away from doing away with red beacons on VIP cars and passing 33% quota for women in jobs — a notable step for a state notorious for missing daughters. If Congress MLAs want the “Akali way” to run their fiefdoms as halqa in-incharges, the CM has not given them any leeway.
The government seems to be in a populist rush to come good on poll promises, despite no one doubting its claims of an empty .
• Doing away with red beacons
• 33% job quota for women, 50% representation in local bodies
• Debt relief to small, marginal farmers
• Focus on jobs for youth
• Cancelling illegal permits of buses
• Sand mining auction controversy
• Allegations of nabbing drug addicts, not “big fish”
• Tussle to control truck unions, officers’ browbeating by MLAs
• Conflict of interest law on ministers, MLAs put on back-burner
• CM’s inaccessibility, dependence on coterie