Sukhbir Badal attacks Amarinder Singh on power tariff, VAT on fuel, loan waiver promise

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Fatehgarh Sahib (Punjab), Mar 8 (PTI) Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Monday asked Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to disclose one landmark achievement of his four-year tenure, saying people were fed up with the Congress and his government.

Instead of working for the welfare of the people, Congressmen presided over the loot of state resources, be it by illegal quarrying of sand, liquor smuggling or embezzlement of NREGA funds, the SAD president said, addressing the 'Punjab Mangda Hisab dharnas'.

'Once the SAD forms the government in the state, we will hold an inquiry into all these illegal acts, particularly the loot of NREGA funds,' he said.

Badal claimed Congress legislators had established cement tile factories and forced village sarpanches to purchase tiles from them at inflated rates. 'We will ensure all those guilty of such frauds are given their due punishment,' he added.

Sukhbir Badal also came down heavily on the Congress government for 'shedding crocodile tears' over the high rates of petroleum products.

He said if the Centre was levying 31 per cent tax on petro products, the Punjab government was levying 27 per cent tax.

'The Congress government should reduce its VAT quotient to give relief to farmers and the common man,' Badal said.

He said the Punjab government increased power tariffs by about 15 times during the last four years, making power rates in the state among the highest in the country. 'These should be reduced immediately,' he said.

Rejecting the Congress government's stand that power purchase agreements with private thermal plants were responsible for the high tariffs, Badal said the state was getting power at Rs 2.80 per unit but was selling it at Rs 10 per unit.

He announced that once the SAD formed the government in the state, it would half power tariffs for domestic consumers.

Badal said the chief minister would have to tell people why he played with their emotions and why he took a false oath in the name of the holy Gutka Sahib to waive farmer loans completely, besides other promises.

'Even farmer suicide victim families were promised Rs 10 lakh and a government job, but the government had reneged on this promise also,' he added.

Badal said the Congress government was also responsible for the plight of the farmers, who were agitating against the three agricultural laws.

It was the Congress party which promised in its election manifesto in 2019 to repeal the APMC Act and allow inter-state trade in agricultural commodities, he added.

Promising to restart development in the state and secure the farmers, the SAD president said, 'Once we form the government, we will launch a programme to ensure all 12,000 villages in the state have concrete streets, access to clean drinking water and sewerage system. We will also introduce a minimum support price on fruits and vegetables as well as milk.' PTI Corr VSD IJT