Among the first things that the Congress’ chief ministerial candidate in Punjab, Amarinder
Singh, has promised to do after he assumes power is to tackle the drug
menace by choking the supply of such intoxicants in four weeks.
“Anybody involved in the drug
scourge will be dealt in accordance with law, howsoever powerful he may be. I have said within four weeks we will tackle this drugs
problem," Singh told a crowded press conference in Chandigarh on Saturday.
The increasing number of drug-abuse cases has been one of the poll planks of both the Congress
and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The parties alleged that the drug
menace and cases of drug
abuse had seen a huge increase during the Akali
regime under its patronage.
That apart, incidents of sacrilege, which hit several parts of the state, would also be investigated, he said.
Singh said his party had committed itself to providing good governance, besides focusing on health and education.
The Congress’ manifesto included the waiver of farm loans, a promise the new government will find tough to keep.
According to a Punjab
Agricultural University estimate, the farm indebtedness in the state was around Rs 69,355 crore.
Of the Punjab
government’s 2016-17 Budget of Rs 86,387 crore, as much as Rs 5,600 crore was allocated as free power subsidy to farmers. Free power to farmers and other sops have created a debt of Rs 1.24 lakh crore for the state government and industrial activity has slowed significantly.
“A farm debt waiver will have massive financial implications, particularly for an agrarian state like Punjab, and it will impact financial discipline, but given that in the last two years there has been a drought in North India, the new state government should consider such a relief but should keep it limited to small and marginal farmers, that is those who own less than two hectares,” PK Joshi, South Asia director, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), told Business Standard.
He said most often such a step was politically motivated, but in Punjab
it could be considered because the state has not come under the crop insurance scheme.
That apart, the Congress
has promised a job for every household, 33 per cent reservation for women in jobs and educational institutions, an end to VVIP culture, full freedom for trade business, and industry with affordable electricity, water and sewerage, a two-year ban on official foreign travels of all MLAs/officials.