Monday, January 28, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Something for everyone in Cong manifesto
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
Making the slogan, “freedom from corruption and freedom from bankruptcy,” its main election plank, the Congress today released its manifesto promising 27 per cent reservation in jobs for backward classes, continuation of free power for agricultural sector, a job for each SC and BC family, 150 free units for all SC and BC families and also for those living below the poverty line rationalisation of power tariff for industry, abolition of sales tax barriers and other sops for various sections of society.

Releasing the seemingly “please -all” manifesto, the PPCC President Capt Amarinder Singh, said the party had offered a package of concessions worth Rs 1200 crore to various sections including trade, industry, farmers, weaker sections of society and employees.

In fact, going a step ahead, the Congress assured relief to those farmers who operated their tubewells with diesel engines.

The party had not made any promise which it could not fulfil. It had fixed a target to mobilise Rs 4000 crore as additional revenue by tightening the belts and plugging loopholes to put back the state’s destabilised economy back on the rails. The party could afford to pay concessions to various sections to revive the economy by mobilising Rs 4,000 crore, he asserted.

Concessions mentioned in the manifesto were in addition to the earlier commitments, like Rs 30 per quintal bonus on paddy and 15 per cent house rent to employees living in cities having a population of over five lakh, made by the party in the run-up to the elections.

Making the party’s stand clear on controversial issues pertaining to the state, Capt Amarinder Singh said first justice should be done with Punjab regarding the sharing of river waters .

Blaming Mr Parkash Singh Badal for bartering away Punjab’s interests he promised to approach the Supreme Court to file a review petition regarding the SYL canal case by engaging the best legal brains.

Chandigarh and Punjabi-speaking areas should be given to Punjab, he said, adding that the Rajiv-Longowal accord was still relevant and the party was for its implementation. Mr Moti Lal Vora, a senior Congress leader, was misquoted on the SYL canal issue, he said. On the WTO issue, he said the SAD-BJP government was resorting to gimmicks by stating that it would approach the apex court on the issue.

Making the most significant promise in the manifesto, the party stated that it would set up a judicial commission headed by a sitting judge of the high court to enquire into the acquisitions of wealth and property by Mr Badal and his family as well as other ministers, besides political appointees. Bureaucrats and other government officers would also be subjected to such an inquiry, the manifesto said.

If the Congress came to power, the Chief Minister and other ministers would declare their assets after taking the office and adopt a model code of conduct and maintain transparency in government work, according to the manifesto.

To tackle the hefty power bill issue, the Congress promised that the bills would be reviewed.

The sectorwise promises made by the Congress are as follows:

Agriculture: The dismantling of the minimum support price system would not be allowed, and crop insurance cover, including against crop loans, would be provided to all farmers. All pending three lakh tubewell power connections would be released by scaling down overhead charges, abolition of arrest warrant system to recover cooperative loans from defaulters, policy for diversification of agriculture and to promote agro-based industry, especially sugar, mills were among the other promises for the agriculture sector. Every farmer would be issued a pass book having details of the record of his landholdings.

Industry, trade, transport: The Congress promised a new industrial policy with an emphasis on modernisation, quality and competitiveness. Anti-dumping duty to protect the local industry from the onslaught of cheaper goods from abroad, simplification and cutting down of sales tax slabs, abolition of octroi without affecting development of towns and cities and measures to increase the credit flow for industry were on the agenda.

Besides, it assured to clear the industrial projects through a single window system within 48 hours, and give representation to representative of trade and industry, businessmen, on advisory committees to be set up for power tariff, sales tax and power regulation authorities.

The Congress promised to set up a permanent standing committee of transporters to improve the transport system. It would have a quota of bus permits for SCs and BCs.

Irrigation and drainage: It gave an assurance to improve the irrigation capacity of various channels by restructuring their design.To cater to the needs of the Kandi area and the Dera Bassi-Lalru belt, the Congress promised to complete the Kandi and Dasmesh canals at the earliest.

Employees, pensioners and ex-servicemen: Time-scale promotions on 4-9-14 basis, bonus on the Central pattern, enhancement in fixed medical allowance, removal of anomalies in pay scales were the promises made to the employees. To pensioners, the Congress promised to give revised gratuity, enhancement in medical allowance and medical bill reimbursement of outdoor patients, besides considering the proposal to pay house rent to them.

Reduction in sales tax on CSD items, jobs for the wards of soldiers who died in harness, pressure on the Centre to enforce one rank one pay and an increase in the gallantry award amount featured in the manifesto provision for special laws to get ex-servicemen’s urban and rural property vacated and a cell in the Chief Minister’s office to deal with their problems were part of the manifesto.

Unemployed youth, NRIs, martyrs and freedom fighters: To enlist Unemployed youth in the age group of 18-35 years, a survey would be conducted and crash courses would be held to train the youth. Those found eligible would be accommodated in government departments and elsewhere by pursuing an active placement policy based on merit the minimum wages act would be enforced in the industrial and other sectors.

The NRI Sabha would be dissolved and its affairs would be subjected to an inquiry.

Grandchildren of freedom fighters and martyrs would be given Rs 21,000 at the time of their marriages. Adequate funds would be provided to complete the memorial of the late Beant Singh.

All rural clubs would be given regular grants and internationally recognised players would be given government service. Those living in penury would be given medical aid and pension.

Law and order: The cases of police officers who were facing trial would be reviewed and legal assistance would be provided to them. Effort would be made to keep the police morale high by modernising it and providing other facilities. At the same time human right violations would be strictly dealt with.

In its concluding part the Congress stated: “This manifesto is not merely a political ritual. It is an embodiment of hope and prosperity for the bright future of people and with this the party has submitted itself before people of the state.”Back

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