Chandigarh, Feb 2 (PTI) The Punjab Congress on Saturday slammed the Shiromani Akali Dal for its “silence” on the Rs 6,000 annual support scheme announced for the farmers in the interim Union budget, daring the BJP ally to justify that the “meagre” amount could help address the farm crisis.
Accusing the BJP government of insulting the farming community with the Rs 500-per month support, the Congress asked the Akali Dal to leave the ministerial post in the Union cabinet on the farmers’ issue.
“On each and every issue, you can always find the statement or tweet from the Akali Dal. But, ever since the budget has been announced, not even a single word has been uttered by it. Neither (Parkash Singh) Badal ‘sahib’, Sukhbir (Badal) nor minister ‘sahiba’ (Harsimrat Kaur Badal) made any statement on it,” Congress state president Sunil Jakhar said while addressing the media here.
“This silence itself shows that Akali Dal has kneeled before the BJP government at the Centre,” Jakhar said.
The Gurdaspur MP said he wanted to hear Sukhbir Badal state that the Rs 500 per month was better than Rs 2-lakh debt-waiver given by the Congress government in the state. “With which face will he (Sukhbir) criticise the Rs 2-lakh debt-waiver?” he asked, pointing out to the criticisms against the state government’s scheme.
“Is it (Rs 6,000) not an insult to the farming community? How can now he justify Rs 500 (per month) for distressed growers?” Jakhar asked.
“Akali Dal should leave the cabinet berth (held by Harsimrat) at the Centre,” Jakhar demanded. “They can neither speak for the welfare of farmers or ‘panth’ (Sikh community). They just want to save their own seat.” Incidentally, the SAD was irked over the perceived interference of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in the internal affairs of Sikhs, including management of gurdwaras.
While Jakhar and the party’s incharge of Punjab, Asha Kumari, dubbed the interim budget “disappointing”, state Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal described it as a “panic reaction”.
“The budget has rubbed salt into the wounds of farmers and poor people,” Jakhar said.
The Congress leader said his party would fulfil its promise of minimum income guarantee for the poor if it comes to power after the Lok Sabha polls.
“The bottom line is none of the scheme announced in the budget was backed by money,” Manpreet Badal said.
Badal wondered how the Centre would generate resources to meet its promises and claimed that it would have to impose tax to the tune of Rs 80,000 crore if it wanted to execute the proposals.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.