Chandigarh, November 1: It is matter of just another five years before Punjab becomes a model state for the entire world leaving behind highly developed economies like that of USA and Canada, settling where is the dream of a common Punjabi youth presently. This is the dream today sold by Shiromani Akali Dal President and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. However, to enjoy that privileged position, the Punjabis would have to vote for Shiromani Akali Dal in February 2017 elections to give another term to the dynamic leader. He has promised to serve the state at least for 25 years.
His promise just cannot be overlooked this time. He has Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah to vouch for him. The occasion to make this promise to the people was the Punjabi Suba 50th anniversary celebration function organised today at Amritsar. Extending him the much needed support to translate dream into reality was Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley whom the people of the holy city had sent packing in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. They voted for Capt Amarinder Singh despite fully aware of his functional style that he would not turn up after his victory. He remains steadfast in that.
Sukhbir has set the index of doubling of income of the people in the state within five years. However, he did not specify whether this increase would be in real terms or at current prices. All the villages in the state would have cemented streets and sewerage facility. The villages are already having potable water supply.
Jaitley promised total support to Sukhbir in his endeavour saying face of Punjab has been undergoing change since 2007 when the Akali Dal-BJP alliance government took over under Parkash Singh Badal. He too reinforced Sukhbir asserting Punjab would be the show piece for all states in the country.
He was all praise for Badal who “stood like a rock against foreign aggressions, terrorism and Emergency”.
Amit Shah shifted from his earlier position on the intensity of drug problem in Punjab. It may be mentioned that at one stage, he had decided to lead awareness campaign against drugs in this state but dropped that plan. Today he blamed both the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party for defaming youth of Punjab as druggists. Now the Badal government is on solid footing to counter this malicious campaign going by the results of drug test conducted during police recruitment drive. This was the biggest ever sample and the findings can’t be questioned.
While Badal has been describing the alliance with the BJP as being social alliance rather than just political, Amit Shah went a step further to reinforce the thesis saying the SAD-BJP and the Badal-Narendra Modi alliance was a national alliance as Punjab is the heart of India. He also repeated the Akali narrative of the maximum contribution made by the Punjabis towards the freedom struggle.
He also talked of 350th Parkash Utsav of Tenth Sikh Lord Guru Gobind Singh for which year-long celebrations have been planned not just by the Punjab but also by the Modi government. It may be mentioned that it is the RSS that propagates the Dasam Granth as the creation of Guru Gobind Singh besides some Sikh sections. Propagating Dasam Granth is part of the agenda of the Sangh Parivar.
Badal mainly dwelt upon political concerns. Going by the issues that he raised, one can ask the question as to what for was today’s celebrations in case the basics like Chandigarh, Punjabi speaking areas and that of river waters apportionment continue to be unresolved.
He made an interesting comment while talking of resolving these issues. “People taunt us saying this is our government at the centre. We want the issue of transfer of Chandigarh and Punjabi speaking areas to be resolved”, he said. Badal is right. This is not for the first time that the same combination is ruling in state and at the centre. Now he can’t blame the Congress for the deadlock. Haryana too is ruled by the BJP and as such, there should be no problem in shedding the 1966 baggage.
His competitive assertion was significant. He made it clear whatever might be the judicial verdict, Punjab would not spare even a drop of river waters. The Supreme Court order is awaited on Presidential Reference on Punjab Termination of Waters Agreements Act adopted when Capt Amarinder Singh was the chief minister. He had taken this bold step in view of the Supreme Court verdict on the construction of the Satluj-Yamuna Link Canal to carry waters to Haryana. That state is already getting supplies from the Bhakra Canal system.