New Punjab Govt Takes Populist Measures to Deceive Voters

Punjab chief minister (CM) Charanjit Singh Channi holding a meeting on September 20, 2021. Photo: Punjab Government
Punjab chief minister (CM) Charanjit Singh Channi holding a meeting on September 20, 2021. Photo: Punjab Government

Instead of empowering people in the state to earn their livelihoods with grace, Channi will squander government funds on populist schemes to buy the votes.

By Rakesh Raman

The Punjab Cabinet led by the newly appointed chief minister (CM) Charanjit Singh Channi on Monday (September 20) in its maiden meeting discussed various public initiatives to be implemented in a time bound manner. It was decided that these initiatives will be launched from October 2, 2021 to mark the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

On September 19, Congress had selected Channi as the new CM of Punjab after the sudden resignation of Amarinder Singh, who had failed to fulfill his poll promises made to the people of the state. Congress – like other political parties in India – played a dirty caste- and religion-based politics to deceive the voters while saying that Channi is a Sikh and dalit (poor and backward caste) man, although he is an affluent politician.

Instead of selecting the CM for competence, Congress preferred to look at Channi’s religion and caste. Now the Channi-led government has decided to woo the voters before the Assembly election of 2022 by bribing them with government dole and shallow promises.

Among its populist schemes, the new Punjab government has decided to focus on healthcare and education sectors which have been completely ruined by the previous governments. 

According to a government communique released on September 20, the Cabinet directed the Housing & Urban Development Department to immediately start construction of 32000 Economically Weaker Section (EWS) houses on priority basis. These houses will be made available to the eligible beneficiaries on affordable installments.

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The Cabinet deliberated that the free mining of sand (reta) by the landowners will be allowed to abolish the contract system. Under this system, any landowner can mine sand (reta) from their land to ensure its availability to the consumers at affordable rates.

The Cabinet also deliberated to increase free electricity units from existing 200 units to 300 units to SC/BC/BPL (poor) domestic consumers. It asked the Additional Chief Secretary Power to bring the proposal in the next Cabinet to give relief to the poor and needy.

The Cabinet also deliberated to waive off the pending electricity bills of tubewells working under Rural Water Supply (RWS) schemes and also to provide free water supply in rural areas. The Cabinet reviewed to give relief to the domestic water and sewerage tariff to the consumers of the urban areas. It was decided that the Local Government Department will bring a proposal in the next Cabinet in this regard.

The Cabinet simplified the process of allotment of 5-marla plots and empowered the Panchayat Samitis to decide the cases. A special campaign will be launched by the Rural Development & Panchayats Department to identify and finalize the allotment of plots to the eligible beneficiaries within two months. 

Moreover, it was decided that Punjab Scheduled Castes Land Development and Finance Corporation (PSCFC) will formulate a policy for allotment of land to occupants at affordable rates. 

Considering the importance of education, the Cabinet decided that a comprehensive policy regarding proper implementation of Right to Education Act and providing monetary help to the eligible educational institutes be prepared and put up in the next meeting.

As the Assembly election is approaching, the Congress party has made Channi the CM to send a message among the voters that it has removed the non-performing CM Amarinder Singh. But instead of empowering people in the state to earn their livelihoods with grace, Channi will squander government funds on populist schemes to buy the votes. Obviously, Punjab is not in safe hands.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.

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