These days, end of season sale is everywhere but one can find the promises of distributing more "free” items in the manifestos of the three major parties, released last week contesting in the coming Punjab elections. While on 4th February, people of Punjab will cast their votes, unequivocally, this time competition in Punjab is triangular i.e. between three major parties. The new bully in the town, AAP is a formidable force and definitely making Congress and Akali Dal clench their teeth in nervousness.
AAP’s manifesto focuses highly on the issue of drug menace in Punjab and several ways to curb it like providing government jobs to recovering addicts, de-addiction centers and life imprisonment for convicted drug dealers. But, the two major highlights of AAP’s manifesto which actually catch public’s attention are distribution of free laptops to children ahead of their board exams and establishing multiple canteens throughout the state which will provide subsidized meals at a cost of 5 rupees. The idea of setting such subsidized canteens is not a new creation whereas it was first executed by former chief minister of Tamil Nadu, J.Jayalalitha.
This time, the trump card of Congress is ‘Har Ghar me Captain’ or ‘Ghar Ghar Rozgar’ of which we are constantly reminded through radios and our phones. Under this scheme, Congress promises to provide at least one job in each family.
But, it is actually the claim made by Akali Dal in their manifesto which will appear ludicrous to most of the people.
Akali Dal promises to buy one lakh acre of land in Canada and other countries. Justifying the scheme, the manifesto says: "This will help farmers in pursuing agriculture in economic farms. This will also endure Punjabis to secure permanent residency status in these countries.” With several other promises, the party has also promised free two wheelers, in lieu of cycles, to all girl students from class 12 up to graduation.
After going through the manifestos of all the three parties, there are two questions which need our attention. Does the credulous public of Punjab really need so many promises of distributing free items? Can Punjab really afford these promises? People of Punjab which is acknowledged as ‘the food bowl of India’ have never shied away from working. It would have been much more pleasurable had all the three parties come up with some real constructive policies to get Punjab out of the clenches of severe debts. Reports indicate that Punjab’s debt has more than doubled under the SAD-BJP rule with the figure touching nearly Rs. 1, 17,353 crore in 2015 from the Rs 51,153 crore in 2007.
Today, everything is smart around us from our mobile phones to televisions then why not we also become smart voters this election season and choose our leaders carefully. The least we can do for our Punjab is that we, definitely, vote.