M A I N   N E W S

SAD goes all out against Manpreet
Dubs him a conspirator, Sukhbir says subsidies to go on
Naveen S Garewal and Shariq Majeed
Tribune News Service

Kup Rahira (Sangrur)/ Chandigarh, October 18
Five days after Manpreet Singh Badal resigned from the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP government in Punjab, the senior leadership of the party today launched a frontal attack on the former Finance Minister and branded him a “conspirator”.

Virtually flaying Manpreet’s stand on subsidies, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said it was at variance with the philosophy of the SAD.

For the first time, senior SAD leaders, who addressed a mammoth gathering at a function to lay the foundation of Wada Ghalughara Memorial in Sangrur district, claimed that Manpreet had “conspired with the Congress to harm the interest of the party he represented”. They also termed the ex-minister’s “issue based politics” a humbug.

Sukhbir said the SAD-BJP government would continue the “pro-poor, pro-farmer and pro-aam admi policies”. It was apparent signal to all potential voices of dissent that they would be “isolated” like Manpreet if they tried to “to go against the SAD philosophy”.

The Deputy CM while questioning the rationale behind the argument put up by Manpreet challenged the former FM’s facts and made an attempt to demolish the case built by the latter for “taking Punjab out of the debt crisis”.

“How can we charge Rs 20 per kg for atta instead of Rs 4 and Rs 100 per kg for dal instead of Rs 20 from BPL families? We cannot snatch bread from the mouth of the poor,” said Sukhbir.

“The former FM wanted the government to charge Rs 30,000 as monthly power bill from the farmers besides stopping free 200 unit power to SC families. Agreeing to his arguments would have meant stopping of free travel facility for students, senior citizens and charging Rs 500 from patients at the government hospitals for an admit card that costs Rs 2 at present,” said Sukhbir.

The Deputy CM said the SAD believed in raising revenue to continue pro-poor programmes instead of stopping the subsidies. Accusing the former FM of inflating Central debt figure from Rs 3,500 crore to 35,000 crore, Sukhbir said Punjab owed the Centre only Rs 3,500 crore. The rest was in the shape of bank bonds and small saving schemes in which the Central government could not interfere.

Punjab, he said, was not the only state that was facing a huge debt as had been projected by the ex-minister. He added that according to the Union Government data, the debt of UP was 2.21 lakh crore, Maharashtra 2.05 lakh crore, West Bengal 1.92 lakh crore, Andhra Pradesh 1.26 lakh crore, Gujarat 1.05 lakh crore, Rajasthan 90,000 crore, Tamil Nadu 74,000 crore and for Karnataka it was 65,000 crore. Punjab’s debt, Sukhbir claimed, was mere Rs 64,000 crore.

Highlighting the achievements of his government, he said the present government has doubled the VAT collection from Rs 5,000 crore to Rs 10,000 crore within three years, whereas the excise collection has reached 2,500 crore from 1,500 crore and was expected to cross 3,000 crore next year. He added that the Punjab government cannot accept those policies that were against the basic philosophy of the party.

Sukhbir said personalities are not important and it was the party that makes the leader. Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, secretary general Shiromani Akali Dal and a Rajya Sabha MP regretted the “indiscipline” by former FM.





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