On the front foot, Captain outsmarts rivals - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

On the front foot, Captain outsmarts rivals

On the front foot, Captain outsmarts rivals

Rajmeet Singh

Completing two years in office, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh turned 77 this week. While there was a bash to celebrate his birthday, his tenure so far may not call for as grand a celebration. The roll-out of development schemes has been painfully slow and poll promises are yet to be met.

This said, Capt Amarinder continues to play on the front foot in the political arena. Outsmarting his rivals within the party, mainly those eyeing the top seat, he has reaffirmed his position as the undisputed leader of the Punjab Congress.

Securing a two-thirds majority in the 2017 Assembly elections followed by consecutive wins in the byelections to the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha and Shahkot Assembly seats with huge margins, the CM, strengthened by a divided Opposition, is now working on ‘Mission 13’ — winning all 13 Lok Sabha seats.

Capt Amarinder is credited with instilling a sense of security in all sections by eliminating organised crime, cracking murder cases of Hindu right-wing leaders and busting Khalistani modules. At the same time, he has addressed Panthic issue by initiating action — though only partially — on the emotive issue of sacrilege and the police firing at Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura.

The special schemes launched to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev and pushing for the Kartarpur Sahib corridor are his other accomplishments that has won him praise. But that’s half the story.

Capt Amarinder has given virtually a free hand to bureaucrats to run the government. In private, his Cabinet colleagues and party legislators admit the government’s performance has been below expectations, mainly owing to lack of delivery of government schemes.

In the saddle for 24 months now, the narrative of under-delivered poll promises is being played up by the Opposition. Given the financial crunch, promises like free smartphones under ‘Captain Smart Connect Scheme’, Rs 2,500 unemployment allowance and a job for each family remain a distant dream. The government intent of ending the sand, transport and cable mafia is not visible on the ground. 

The involvement of a number of party MLAs in sand mining is a case in point. The government has been found wanting in prompt action as illegal mining continues unabated, despite the government bringing in a new sand and gravel policy.

Basking in glory for being the first state to disburse Rs 4,736 crore under farm loan debt waiver scheme ‘Karja Kurki Khatam, Fasal Di Puri Rakam’ benefiting five lakh small and marginal farmers and other Congress-ruled states replicating the Punjab model, the government is now bringing in a scheme for landless farmers and farmhand. 

Though the government may be given credit for initiating administrative reforms, tackling corruption continues to be their Achilles heel. The much promised legislation on ‘Conflict of Interest’ to bring MLAs and ministers under its purview is still at the discussion stage. 

Also, the exodus of Punjabi youth to foreign lands is indicative of the rising problem of unemployment. 

Under the ‘Ghar Ghar Rozgar and Karobar’ schemes, the government claims to have helped 6.26 lakh  youth — 761 per day. The Opposition, however, is not impressed. It says the government has been using  private colleges to host ‘Rozgar Melas’ to send out the impression it is generating employment.

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