Chandigarh, February 26
Facing the ire of the Opposition over unfulfilled poll promise of giving free smartphones to the state youth, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday informed the Punjab Assembly that the distribution of mobile phones was delayed because of coronavirus.
Winding up the discussion on the Governor’s address in the budget session, Singh said the phones would arrive and distributed as soon as the coronavirus outbreak in China is contained.
China and countries around the world are scrambling to contain the spread of the epidemic, which first surfaced in Wuhan city in the Hubei province.
“(Free) smartphones is one of our promises. At this point of time, there is some delay because of this coronavirus,” Singh said. “Telephones are under order. As soon as coronavirus is lifted, goods will start coming from China.”
“Be it one month, two months or four months. Whenever coronavirus is lifted, they (smartphones) will arrive and then will be given,” the chief minister said on the floor of the House.
The Opposition SAD, BJP and the AAP have been vociferously criticising the ruling Congress for not allegedly honouring its major polls promises, including distribution of free smartphones.
Last year, the chief minister had announced that the smartphones would be distributed by January 26. He had said that the mobile phones would be distributed among Class 11 and 12 girl students of government schools in the state.
But on Republic Day, Education Minister Vijay Inder Singla had said the phones were expected to be distributed by March 31.
Before coming to power in 2017, the Congress had announced in its election manifesto that in order to “encourage and incentivise” youth to use digital technology in day-to-day lives, it would distribute free smartphones. — PTI
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