CABINET EXPANSION AFTER DEC 18 BUT ‘NO CONVENTION IN CONGRESS FOR DEPUTY CM’, CAPT AMARINDER
Amritsar, December 7: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday said he would go in for cabinet expansion after the declaration of the Gujarat poll results, on December 18, but ruled out appointment of a deputy chief minister, for which the Congress has no convention.
The Chief Minister was addressing a press conference at the launch of the Congress Vision Document for the state’s urban development.
Flanked by PPCC president Sunil Jakhar and Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, Captain Amarinder rejected the suggestion that his government had failed to implement many of its poll promises, which could affect the Congress party’s performance in the MC elections. It was not possible to implement all promises in eight months, especially given the financial crisis inherited from the erstwhile Sad-BJP government, he said, adding that the state is struggling to generate its own resources, including loans, to fulfill its responsibilities and meet its promises.
The process of farm loan waiver would begin after the elections and distribution of smart phones would also begin soon, said the Chief Minister, adding that, unfortunately, all things are dependent on resources, which takes time to manage. The influx of industry would help boost the resource generation for the state, he said, disclosing that his government had signed MoUs to the tune of Rs 50000 crore since taking over in March this year.
On the GST issue, the Chief Minister said the problem was with its implementation, which had been done without the entire issue being properly thought through by the central government.
The Chief Minister disclosed that his government was mulling a change in the Excise Policy to make it more lucrative for the state. The policies in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan were being examined, he added.
Regarding the forthcoming MC elections in Punjab, the Chief Minister rejected outright the allegation of ‘parivarwaad’ in ticket allocation, saying deserving MLAs and other individuals were being chosen, based on the feedback received, by the committee set up for this purpose.
Asked about the Congress prospects in the Gujarat elections, Captain Amarinder said his information, received from senior party colleagues, was that it was going neck-and-neck at the moment, with a strong possibility of silent voters swinging the mood. The chief minister, who had to cancel his proposed visit to Gujarat because of the cyclone alert, said Rahul Gandhi’s elevation would definitely have a positive impact on the polls.
To a question about the recent attempts by radical forces to disturb Punjab’s peace and stability, the Chief Minister said his government was working closely with central agencies to crack down on such elements, working at the behest of the ISI. Pakistan’s ISI was working via various other countries, including Canada, US, UK and Germany, he said, adding that the recent arrests had proved this.
Asked about gangsters operating from prisons to facilitate the radical groups, he said all steps were being taken to block communication, including replacement of 2G jammers with 4G jammers.
On the issue of cable rights in the state, the Chief Minister reiterated that his government would not be selective and would ensure level playing ground for all in the interest of the freedom of the Press.