Friday, March 8, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Big challenge ahead in Punjab: will Capt Amarinder Singh deliver the goods?

Mr Hari Jaisingh in his article, Big challenge ahead in Punjab (March 1) has given no time to the new Chief Minister to rejoice in his victory in Punjab and laid a tough agenda for him within 48 hours of his taking the oath. The Captain, caught between debt and deficit, may be finding himself short of breath while Mr Hari Jaisingh, whose deliberate attempt to highlight the Nisha Kaura case on the front page of The Tribune on the day of elections definitely swayed the masses in favour of the Congress, holds every right to demand faster development, a clean administration and good governance for the people of Punjab.

While piloting the ship of Punjab, the priorities for the Captain will include four Ps progress of the state, power sector, peace and Patiala. This city has remained stagnant while Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar have shown tremendous progress after Independence. The Captain will succeed in sustaining a firm foothold in Patiala if he manages to provide a Chandigarh-Patiala rail link, widen the Patiala-Chandigarh highway, widen and deepen the Patiala nadi which has been afflicting Patiala again and again with floods and uplift the industrial status of this otherwise beautiful city.

The hard-earned peace in Punjab will have to be maintained under all circumstances. The power sector will have to be assigned top priority by minimising theft and losses and having new projects in the state as everything today has become dependent on power. Progress of the state will demand special emphasis on civic amenities and industrial growth with an eye on the IT sector. Achieving all this with a whopping deficit staring in the face might be a herculean task for the new Chief Minister. Firm determination and persistence coupled with clean and austere measures will certainly pay.



Challenges for Congress: With the Congress coming to power in Punjab, the greatest challenges for the CM will be to inculcate a sense of pride among the people and improve the image of his party that is known as the mother of all scams and scandals. Many may hope that a personality from the palace may be able to clean its past pollution, specially the events that led to Bluestar and also the militancy and terrorism allegedly mothered by the same party. On the part of Sonia Gandhi, she has yet not shed her Italian image among the rural people who still consider her as an ordinary woman, incidentally married to a son of the late Mrs Indira Gandhi.

Someone very correctly once told a visiting tourist in India that a Congressman is considered fit only if he/she has made Rs 50 lakh as an MLA and Rs 5 crore as an MP. How the Captain is going to break this image is a billion dollar question.

MULTAN SINGH PARIHAR, Jalari (Harmirpur)

Unemployment: We should not expect any miracle from Capt Amarinder Singh. The new Chief Minister and his team of ministers will have to put hard and concerted efforts with honesty and sincerity. Their all efforts should be development and welfare oriented. They will have to maintain transparency and accountability at the political and administrative levels.

The problems of farmers, businessmen and government employees will have to be given a serious thought. Unemployment is a major cause for unrest among educated youth. I sincerely hope Capt Amarinder Singh will appreciate development works undertaken by Mr Parkash Singh Badal.


Austerity: We expect the new CM to lead the state through his personal example by adhering to simplicity and austerity so that sycophants, middle men and grabbers dare not hover around him. Capt Amarinder Singh is capable of delivering the goods provided he displays strong political will without succumbing to any pressure or petty vote-bank politics. There is need to make the bureaucracy accountable and action-oriented to bring succor to the ailing state.

K. L. BATRA, Yamunanagar

Power drunk: The SAD-BJP leaders could not digest the glorious mandate given by the people of Punjab and power went straight into their heads as they thought that no one could ever challenge them for times to come, hence they became arrogant masters of a bonded labour.

Second, the collapse of state machinery under them was complete and there was no authority worth the name left. Even for the smallest official work, the citizen had to part with his hard-earned money and this alienated him from the combine and with the passing of days the alienation became visible and complete.

Third, wrong decisions of the government almost emptied the government treasury, hence panic voting in favour of the Congress.


Administration: It is good that the Congress has come to power in Punjab without support from other parties. The leadership of the party is vested in Capt Amarinder Singh, an educated person with good administrative capabilities. Immediately after assuming office, he has shifted senior officials by installing persons of his choice and has also assured a clean, honest, transparent, strong administration in the state.

If Capt Amarinder Singh proves all that he has said, the state can be revitalised and may again become a lead state on the pattern of Andhra Pradesh.

S. R. MITTAL, Ludhiana

Tasks before Congress: The BJP-SAD government proved to be corrupt. It has been alleged in the media that nothing worked without giving a bribe. The Congress won the election not because of a popular wave, but on the issue of corruption. People were fed up with corruption prevalent at every level of the administration.

Now for the new government, the tasks are difficult but not impossible. Once the Congress acted for the betterment of Punjab and Punjabis, it will rule the state for a pretty long time. Today honest leaders are needed. The burning issues, as highlighted in Frankly Speaking, must be tackled on priority.

UJAGAR SINGH, Chandigarh

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