Newly inducted Punjab Cabinet Minister Manpreet Singh Badal today said priority of the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government will be to restore the "lost glory" of the state. "Restoring Punjab's lost glory is what we will work for," Manpreet, the estranged nephew of ex-Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, told reporters here after taking oath as state cabinet minister. Manpreet, who had served as the finance minister in the SAD-BJP government in 2007, said the Congress government's priority would be to "bring the state's economy, which has been completely devastated under the SAD-BJP regime, back on track". "We are committed to bringing the state back on the path of growth and development," he said. Replying to a question, the cabinet minister indicated that some of the "lopsided" policies of the previous SAD-BJP government will be undone by the Congress government. "Many things will be undone... We want to restore Punjab's pride, which has gone missing. When I was a boy, there used to be a spring in our step as Punjab was right there on the top.
We want to restore that," he said.
Manpreet, who won from Bathinda-Urban Assembly constituency, said education, health, improving the lot of farmers, getting investments for the state, urban development to improve the infrastructure, are some of the areas which will be immediate focus areas of the present government.
"We are committed to improve the per capita income of our people and generate new avenues of employment," he said.
Manpreet also said the Congress government is committed to eliminating the drug menace in the state.
"We are also committed to ending the VIP culture," he said.
Earlier in the day, Amarinder Singh (75) was sworn in as the 26th Chief Minister of Punjab along with nine ministers, including Navjot Singh Sidhu and Manpreet Badal.
The Congress stormed to power in Punjab after a gap of 10 years by winning 77 seats in the 117-member Assembly.
(REOPENS DES1) The efforts of the state government will be to reduce wasteful expenditure and generate more revenue by ending mafia control in sectors like sand and mining, Manpreet said "We will put the state on the right track," he asserted. Meanwhile, newly-appointed Cabinet Minister Charanjit Singh Channi refused a red beacon for his official vehicle. "I never used a red beacon atop my vehicle. I belong to a simple and poor family. I will always remain simple," he told reporters after the swearing-in-ceremony at the Raj Bhawan here. On whether he wanted to give a message to others by refusing the red beacon, Channi said he did not want to ask anyone to follow him. Another Punjab Cabinet Minister Brahm Mohindra said the main focus of the new Congress government in Punjab would be to eliminate the drug menace and create jobs in the state. "The SAD-BJP government has ruined the state in the past 10 years. Nearly 35-40 lakh youths got unemployed during this period and no big industrial project came to the state," he alleged. "Our main priority will be to make the state drug free and create employment opportunities," he said.