The manifesto released by the Congress for Punjab elections has raised many an eyebrow. The party has promised sops it may find impossible to deliver on. We are citing such tall promises fulfilling which will surely be a herculean task:
Shutting down liquor vends
The Congress has promised to shut down five percent of the liquor vends in the state for five years, should it be voted into power. To realise the promise, it will have to sacrifice a sizeable chunk of the state's coffers as liquor sale is a major source of revenue for the state. Punjab stands at number six in the country in terms of liquor consumption, which has doubled during the last decade. The state government, which earned Rs 1,363 crore from liquor sales is now netting more than Rs 3,057 crore (2015-16).
The AAP, a strong contender in the Punjab polls, has ridiculed the grand old party saying it will not be able to keep the promise as few Congress leaders - including Balbir Sidhu, the party's Mohali MLA who released the manifesto with Manpreet Badal on Monday - also own the liquor businesses.
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"It is ridiculous that Congress is talking about closing down the liquor vends. It was Captain Amrinder Singh who had given an open hand to liquor Barron Ponty Chadha to open vends in the state when he was a CM. Will the Congress leaders able to shut down the vends owned by them?" asks senior AAP leader,Kanwar Sandhu.
End to drug trade in '4 hafte'!
Like AAP, the Congress has also vowed to adopt a zero tolerance policy for drug trafficking, stating its government will wipe out the menace in just "4 Hafte (four weeks)".
Experts say the claims to end the trade within a month is a mere pipe dream as the business is deeply rooted and spread like wildfire during the past decade. The party has not made it clear how it plans to break the nexus between the mafia, the police and the politicians.
The Congress has also promised to provide jobs to each household in the state, along the lines of the Skill India mission. The election manifesto says that the party would provide one job per family and open employment bureaux in each district.
There are a total of 32,68,562 households in Punjab. Providing jobs to 32 lakh people will be a herculean task. The party has also promised jobs to Dalits, not to mention the unemployed from the general category. How will the party provide jobs to 12,00,764 Dalit families?
In addition, the party has promised a monthly unemployment allowance of Rs 2,500 to 3.61 lakh youth. The Akali Dal-BJP government could only provide jobs to 52,000 people and the sixth pay commission has yet to be implemented.
The government spends 32 percent on salaries and pensions alone. Needless to say, jobs along with an unemployment allowance will be no easy task when the government is facing a huge debt trap (of more than Rs 1.25 lakh crore).
Waiver for farmers
The Congress in its manifesto has promised a number of soaps to the farmers, including loan waivers, introduction of farmer pension, health insurance and crop compensation. It has promised to continue to provide free electricity to the farmers upon election.
According to a survey conducted by Punjabi University, Patiala, the farmers of Punjab have an outstanding debt of Rs 69,355 crore. There is no clarity as to how the Congress will generate money to pay off the debts. Even if the government plans to waive loans, what about those which the farmers have raised from third parties?
Curbing VIP Culture
The Congress has promised it will end the VIP culture in the state by doing away with red beacons and effecting a 90 percent cut in the security provided to VIPs.
The AAP has ridiculed the Congress over the promise citing Captain Amarinder Singh's aristocratic lifestyle (as he is a former Maharaja). It has also asked the Congress whether - by that logic - Captain Singh will be able to remove the red beacons of cars used by party chief Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi. Or have they managed to do that already?