Hours before he formally submitted his resignation yesterday to the Governor, Captain Amarinder Singh had on Saturday written to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, apprising her of his decision, while expressing anguish at the political events of the last about five months, which he said were clearly “not based on full understanding of the national imperatives of Punjab and its key concerns.”
“Notwithstanding my personal anguish, I hope this will not cause any damage to the hard-earned peace and development in the State, and that the efforts I have been focusing during the last few years, would continue unabated, ensuring justice to one and all,” Captain Amarinder had written in his letter to Sonia, indicating his apprehension of instability in Punjab as a result of the political developments in the state unit of the Congress.
At the same time, Captain Amarinder expressed his personal satisfaction at having done his best for the people as chief minister of Punjab, which, as a border state, “has many geo-political and other internal security concerns, which I tried to handle effectively without any compromise.” He said he was happy that the State remained fully peaceful, and there was complete communal harmony with no ill-will towards anyone.
While she (Sonia) herself may be personally aware of some of the things achieved in the last four and a half years, “the people of Punjab are looking up to the Indian National Congress for its mature and effective public policies, which not only reflect upon good politics, but also address the concerns of the common man that are specific to this border State,” wrote Captain Amarinder, while informing the Congress President about his decision to demit the office of the Chief Minister, Punjab, after completing nine-and-half years as such from 2002 to 2007 and 2017 to September 2021.
In these nine-and-a-half years, Captain Amarinder said he had worked wholeheartedly for the welfare of the people of Punjab – the State he loves from the core of his heart. “This was extremely satisfying for me because not only I established the rule of law, and ensured transparent governance, but maintained ethical conduct even in management of political affairs, winning 8 out of 13 seats in the Parliament Elections in 2019 and the PRI and ULB Elections decisively.”
Referring to the numerous challenges faced by him over the last four-and-half years in fulfilling the promises made by the Punjab Congress in the Punjab Elections 2017, he pointed out that these notwithstanding, of the total promises made, his Government had fulfilled 89.2 percent, while work was in progress on the remaining commitments.
Citing the challenges posed by the pandemic Covid-19, he said his government faced the same in an effective and well-coordinated manner, ensuring minimum loss of public lives. “The State is today nearly free from the pandemic, and persistent efforts are continuing not only to improve health infrastructure, but also to provide due care to the deserving people free of cost to prevent the much anticipated third wave,” he said, adding that Punjab was fully geared to meet the future challenges. “It gives me great satisfaction that Punjab is the only State, which has decided to provide universal health insurance cover at its own cost in keeping with our manifesto commitment. Nearly 55 lakh families are now eligible for free cashless treatment in the State,” he said.
On the issue of the sacrilege cases and the subsequent police action of 2015, Captain Amarinder said his government, which was committed to ensuring justice in the matter, had established a Judicial Commission of Enquiry headed by Justice (Retd) Ranjit Singh, whose report was received on 16th August 2018. The report was accepted and full legal action was taken thereon, he said, sharing details of the same.
He pointed out that despite legal hurdles and refusal of CBI to return the cases, which were transferred to them by the SAD-BJP Government, his government had succeeded in filing 10 challans, while 24 persons had been charge-sheeted, 15 Police Personnel suspended, and 10 civilians arrested. “The criminal proceedings in these cases are currently underway and I am sure that in due course justice will be done in due course,” he said.
With regard to the controversial Power Purchase Agreements that were signed by the previous Government for the purchase of expensive power to ensure affordable supply to the people of the State, Captain Amarinder said his government had invested Rs. 3709 crore in electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure from 2017-21 and released about Rs. 11000 crore per annum to the benefit of 22 lac SC/BC consumers, and 14 lac farmers. “For the first time, we supplied subsidised power to the industry at annual cost of over Rs 2000 crore,” he said, adding that “Further, the review of the PPAs is currently under way.”
Talking about the farmers, whom he described as the backbone of Punjab’s economy, Captain Amarinder wrote that in line with its commitment to provide debt relief and repeal statutory provisions of attaching their properties, his government had given debt relief of Rs.4,624 crore to 5.64 lakh farmers and Rs.526 crore to 2.68 lakh farm workers. “In addition, we have repealed Section 67-A of the Punjab State Cooperative Societies Act, 1961, and also amended the Civil Procedure Code, disallowing attachment of agricultural land upto 2.5 acres,” he added.
Referring to his personal promise to the people of Punjab to break the back of drug peddlers and smugglers in the State, he said he had done so relentlessly by establishing a Special Task Force (STF) in this regard. Pointing to his government’s 3-pronged strategy titled EDP – Enforcement, De-addiction and Prevention, he said as a result, 62,744 persons had been arrested, 202 OOAT clinics established, 6,28,083 Drug Abuse Prevention Officers (DAPOs) registered and 9,51,202 Buddy Groups formed.
He noted that with the revamp of the Mining Policy of the State in 2017, the State’s revenue had increased from Rs.35 crore per annum to Rs. 300 crore per annum.
Captain Amarinder further shared details of the success of Ghar Ghar Rozgar scheme, for which his government had set up 22 District Bureau of Employment and Enterprise, which facilitated jobs to 19.29 lakh people. These include 62,748 government jobs, 7,37,963 jobs in private sector and 10,93,000 self-employment, he said, adding that rozgar melas had been held regularly since 2017 and the last of these was scheduled to end on September 23rd at Kapurthala.
Underlining his government’s commitment to the development and welfare of the poor and those belonging to Scheduled Castes and backward classes, he pointed out that debt relief of Rs.50,000 each has been given to 10,151 SC beneficiaries and 4702 BC beneficiaries. “We had also decided to enact a special legislation to earmark dedicated funds for development and welfare of SC population in our State,” he noted, adding that 200 units of electricity were being given free of cost to all families belonging to SCs, BCs and BPL with a total coverage of about 22 lakh beneficiaries with an annual subsidy of about Rs. 2000 crore. Adequate representation was also given to the representatives of SC and other poor communities in nominations on various Boards and Corporations, he said, adding that the Post Matric Scholarship Scheme for SC students, which was withdrawn by the Government of India in April 2017, remained fully operative in Punjab despite financial constraints.
Listing rural infrastructure development as another major priority of his Government, Captain Amarinder cited the success of the Smart Village Campaign (SVC), wherein Rs.3597 crore had been spent on development through communities and elected representatives. “42,800 kms rural link roads have been repaired, and in addition Rs.800 crore has also been provided for construction of new link roads. Out of 66,823 works, 48,445 works have been completed and 18,378 are currently in progress under the Smart Village Campaign,” he wrote.
On the new programme titled as Punjab Nirman Programme (PNP), whereby elected representatives were provided requisite funds for the development of local infrastructure regularly focusing on the poor and Dalits, he disclosed that Rs. 1260 crore had been provided for local area development under the Punjab Nirman Programme. Further, for local area development in municipalities, his government had started a new initiative titled ‘Urban Environment Improvement Programme’, under which more than 5000 works in all municipalities with Rs.1351 crore were started. His Government had also focused on major projects and schemes concerning infrastructure development and industrial investment promotion with a new Industrial and Business Development Policy, he said, adding that the state government had achieved industrial investment of Rs. 93,908 crore with a potential of 3.47 lakh jobs. “We also succeeded in investing Rs.8,817 crore in building major roads and bridges,” he added.
Captain Amarinder drew Sonia’s attention to the fact that Punjab had been ranked Number One by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in School Education as a result of consistent efforts and investments in this sector. Of 19,000 schools in the State, 14,000 had been developed as smart schools, whereas the work was under progress in the remaining 5000 schools. “We have also started 8 new universities in private and public sector, established 19 new Government Colleges, and 25 new ITIs,” he further disclosed.