Speaking at The Idea Exchange, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal says the Centre has not been fair to Punjab and blames it for the problems facing the state, including drugs and lack of funds. The session was moderated by Editor (Punjab) Vipin Pubby
Khushboo Sandhu: You are the oldest serving chief minister and are holding the post for the fifth time. How do you view the state of the nation?
The current state of the nation is not good. Whether we look at external security when we talk of China or Pakistan, or internal security with threats like riots, Naxalism and militancy, the Centre has failed on all fronts. Look at the economy. The value of the rupee is decreasing by the day. The growth rate of industry has decreased. The government is taking no action to tackle poverty. It is a bad indicator of the development of the country when the government feels that 80 per cent of the people in the country cannot even buy flour or pulses. I am not against the (food security) scheme. I feel such schemes should be made that people become self-sufficient. The focus, unfortunately, is on vote bank politics.
Farmers are in a pitiable state. Earlier, they had 60 per cent share in the national income. Now, the share of farmers has come down to 13 per cent. Farming is no longer a remunerative business. The reason is policymakers not understanding the problems of the people. The recommendations of M S Swaminathan should be implemented.
When the Constitution was made, it was felt that a federal system of governance should be there. Now this federal system has given way to a unitary form of government. Powers of the state have been taken away by the Centre. They are taking over functions in the state list as well as the concurrent list. Punjab is an agricultural state. Even in this field, we have no powers. In agriculture there are two components, income and expenditure. Income includes the MSP, while expenditure is on diesel, fertilisers, insecticides. All these are controlled by the Centre. Responsibility is ours. No Central minister came to see the floods (of 2013).
Several concessions have been extended to the neighbouring state of Himachal Pradesh to attract industry, while we get the blame for not getting industry here. The RBI has named Punjab third among the best states for industry destination. It states we