By Surekha Vijh
WASHINGTON: Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Partap Singh Bajwa, who was here, blasted the Akali Dal-BJP government for “mismanaging” the state. He said the law and order in Punjab has deteriorated and the economy was in a shambles.
“There has not only been a decline in industrial productivity, Punjab is being left behind by other States in a number of key areas, including agriculture,” Bajwa said.
He said the Congress under him would work “to bring back the previous glory of Punjab.’’
Bajwa, who is in the US for a conference to be held in Boston later this week, was welcomed at a reception at the Heritage India restaurant in Washington, DC.
He also met a cross-section of Indian-Americans, mostly Punjabis at a function, organized by the Washington, DC, chapter of the Indian National Overseas Congress.
Blaming the Akali Dal for ruining Punjab’s economy, he said wherever he goes people complain that the environment in Punjab is appalling, and that there is no law and order and that the police force has become corrupt.
He said much of the industry moved out of Punjab during militancy and new ones are reluctant to come. “Unless we provide good law and order, good infrastructure and faith in the government, no new projects are going to come. As it is, the industry has almost vanished in Punjab.”
Bajwa said the education system in Punjab has deteriorated to the point that “even school teachers themselves don’t want to send their own children to public schools.” Because of the deteriorating education and health care system, he said, the youth in Punjab has gone astray and drug abuse has become rampant.
He said Punjab needs alternatives to improve power shortage, but the Akali Dal government is not seized of the problem. When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh offered to give Punjab a nuclear plant, he said “the incumbent government of Punjab (Akali Dal) did not accept it, calling it a safety hazard. If the whole of Europe is using nuclear plants to increase power production then why not India and Punjab. Safety measures can be taken into account.’’
Bajwa warned that the water level in Punjab has declined drastically. If the situation is not handled quickly, there is a danger that Punjab could become another Rajasthan desert. “We have a land locked state and we must improve relations with Pakistan so that business can be resumed, because of the present situation, the borders are totally closed.’’
He said fifty per cent of the government budget was being spent on salaries. “Total revenue is Rs 30,000 crore and expenditures are Rs 42,000 crore, creating more debt. The state has one lakh crore in debts.”
The 56-year-old Congress leader , who won from the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha constituency in the 2009 elections, was appointed the president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee in March in this year.
(Surekha Vijh is based in Washington)