Senior Congress leader Captain Amarinder Singh is all set to be the new Punjab chief minister, but the Maharaja of Patiala will have to wear the crown of this 'rich' state with a heavy financial burden.
His predecessor, Parkash Singh Badal of the SAD, has left a debt of Rs 1.25 lakh crore and a severe liquidity crisis on what was one of the wealthiest states in the country. Every resident of the state has a debt of Rs 38,536 hanging over his or her head.
So despite a comfortable majority, Captain will find it tough to run the state smoothly and the empty coffers will also make it difficult to fulfil the poll promises the party had made in its manifesto. This would force the state government to rely heavily on the generosity of the Centre.
However, Amarinder is optimistic about getting financial support from the central government and said he would meet the Prime Minister to discuss matters soon.
"I had faced no problems in working with the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee during my previous tenure as chief minister. I will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon to discuss various development projects for the state," he said.
The biggest drain on the coffers of the new state government would be funds required to waive off the farmer loans, which was a key poll promise of the Congress. Other major promises like a government job for each household and 50 lakh 4G-enabled smartphones will also be Herculean tasks.
But Amarinder presented a brave front on Sunday. "I am fully committed to implement the schemes and would ensure that adequate funds are raised for it. Global tenders would soon be floated to procure smart phones as promised under the Captain Smart Connect programme launched ahead of the polls," he said.
He further assured the people of Punjab of quick execution of all election promises, including elimination of the drug menace, which he said would be wiped out within four weeks through the establishment of a special task force. He underlined the importance of setting up more rehabilitation and de-addiction centres as well as appointment of more psychiatrists to tackle the drugs problem.
On his promise of revival of industries, he said the industrial policy of the state would be liberalized to check the flight of industries and make Punjab an attractive investment destination. He said that several leading industrialists had been in touch with him and evinced interest in investing in the state.