CHANDIGARH: The Shiromani Akali Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party today accused Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal of engineering a fake loan waiver for which there were no provisions made in the state’s budget, which was presented four days ago. The opposition parties, represented by SAD’s Sukhbir Singh Badal and BJP’s Som Prakash, also said provisions hadn’t been made for other schemes that the government under Captain Amarinder Singh had promised the state of Punjab. Here are five points they raised.
1) A budgetary allocation of Rs 1,500 crore has been allocated for loan waiver whereas the accumulated loans, according to the Sad-BJP, were as high as Rs 90,000 crore.
2) “Will farm workers also benefit from the loan waiver? There is a feeling that a fraud has been committed against small farmers, and that it is the medium and rich farmers who take crop loans that are being incentivised,” said Sukhbir.
3) He also asked if only cooperative loans were covered under the scheme or also those of nationalised and cooperative banks and commission agents would also be waived.
4) According to SAD-BJP’s estimates Rs 2,300 crore is needed to fulfil Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s promise of power supply at the rate of Rs 5 a unit, for which no budgetary allocation has been made, he said.
5) The Government had promised 25 lakh jobs for the youth. Nothing allocated, Sukhbir Singh Badal mockingly asked if Finance Minister Manpreet planned to make all of them drive taxis for Ola and Uber, and if so has an allocation been made to purchase taxi cabs for them.
Responding to the allegations, Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar praised the Chief Minister and said he had made these big announcements within the first 100 days of his government, when he could as well have waited for four years if he were looking at it as a populist measure to win him brownie points ahead of an election.
Jakhar said the waiver and other schemes had been announced despite the finances of the state being in poor condition, as inherited from the former SAD BJP government.
He also accused SAD of being hand-in-glove with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), both ahead of the elections and now in the State Assembly which, he said, they had reduced to a battleground over power struggled within their own parties and between the two parties .
Jakhar put before Sukhbir three questions, the answers to which he said would expose the nexus between SAD and AAP, and also “expose the complete bankruptcy of leadership in SAD”.
First, will Sukhbir withdraw defamation case against AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, who had accused Bikram Majithia of drug smuggling, as their nexus had been now exposed; second, will Sukhbir apologise for using derogatory words against the Speaker; and finally, will Parkash Singh Badal come to the Vidhan Sabha to take charge of the Opposition.