Chandigarh, (Raftaar News Bureau)
Trashing it as nothing but poll optics, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday ridiculed the Akali and BJP promise of appointing Dalits as deputy CM / CM, respectively, if voted to power.
Given the shockingly poor track record of both the parties, which did nothing for the SC community during their term in power, the Chief Minister said the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had failed to ensure the welfare of the Dalits in the state for 10 years, and were now resorting to political gimmickry to woo the community with an eye on the 2022 elections.
“Sukhbir Badal is now promising a deputy chief minister, but has nothing to show what he or his party, in alliance with the BJP ever did for the community,” remarked the Chief Minister, terming it a political antic aimed at misleading the people with an eye on votes. It was ridiculous the way the BJP had also quickly jumped on to the wagon to promise a Dalit chief minister if it is elected by the people of Punjab, he remarked, adding that given the angst against the party in the state over the farmers’ issue, even finding one winnable candidate would be a challenge for them.
Pointing to the pitiable condition of Dalits in the state under the previous SAD-BJP regime, Captain Amarinder said that for 10 years, the SC community was struggling to survive under the rule of the most apathetic government ever in the state. The Akalis did absolutely nothing for them, he added. Soon after his government took over, it went on to implement all the poll promises made to the SC community, one by one, said the Chief Minister, speaking earlier at the virtual state-level function to celebrate Ambedkar Jayanti.
Recalling that his government, in its first term, had increased Shagun amount from Rs. 5,100 in the year 2002 to Rs. 15,000 in the year 2006, the Chief Minister said from 2007 to 2017, there was no further increase by SAD-BJP. “My government increased the amount again to Rs. 51,000 (effective from 1st July, 2021),” he pointed out, adding that since taking over in March 2017, his government had paid Rs. 409 Crore to 1.95 Lakh.
Similarly, under Social Security Pension, which majorly benefits poor SC people, the Congress Government increased the amount from Rs. 100 to Rs. 200 during the period 1992-97, while SAD-BJP made not hike during 1997-2002. In 2006, his government, said Captain Amarinder, increase the amount to Rs. 250, while from 2007-12, there was no increase under SAD-BJP, which only increased it to Rs 500 in the election run-up, during 2016-17. In 2017, the incumbent government increased the sum to Rs 750, and now, it has been again increased to Rs. 1,500 (effective from 1st July, 2021), to benefit 25 lakh persons, mostly SC.
Under the Pre Matric SC Scholarship, last year, more than 2 Lakh students were given scholarships worth Rs. 52.26 crore, while the Post Matric SC Scholarship Scheme was revived by his government at 100% state government cost last year, in the form of Dr. BR Ambedkar SC Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme, after the Centre discontinued the scheme. This forced Government of India to launch the scheme again, pointed out the Chief Minister.
Listing out other welfare initiatives of his government, Captain Amarinder said under the Debt Relief scheme, all loans up to Rs. 50,000 had been waived by Punjab SC Corporation, while 200 units of Electricity are being given free to SC families. The Dr. BR Ambedkar State Institute of Medical Sciences, being established at Mohali with an investment of Rs. 320 crore, will become functional this year, he pointed out, adding that the Dr. BR Ambedkar Chair in GNDU Amritsar was also established by his government.