With the Congress government in Punjab seeking support of the central government on several state-related issues, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said that so far, he has received “excellent” response from the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The chief minister said that the state government has been able to resolve some critical issues such as the enhancement of the Cash Credit Limit (CCL) for food procurement. Several infrastructural development works have also received a fillip following the intervention of the prime minister and other ministers, Singh said. On the Centre resolving state-related issues taken up by his dispensation, he told PTI, “Frankly, I have, so far, received excellent response from the Centre, including the prime minister and all the union ministers.” “Of course they have their own compulsions, because of which we have not succeeded in getting all the help we need to bring the state back on the path of revival and growth.
“But we have been able to resolve some critical issues such as enhancing the CCL, which has enabled us to ensure smooth procurement and payment for the crops from our farmers,” he said. “Many of the stalled infrastructural development works have also received a huge fillip following the intervention by the prime minister or other ministers,” the chief minister said. Singh had met Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley a few times after coming to power and had sought an increase in the state’s borrowing limit to fund farm debt waiver, settlement of a Rs 31,000 crore of CCL legacy gap and incentive for farmers to stop crop residue burning. “Naturally, there is a lot more for which we are expecting the Centre’s help, including the critical issue of incentivisation and compensation for farmers to check the menace of stubble burning.
“I am hopeful that we shall be able to get things moving on this and on other counts too. I see the central government quite empathetic to our problems,” he said. On the Congress’s poll promises, including debt waiver and smart phones, the chief minister said, “We have already started implementing the debt waiver scheme and I have made it clear that farmers eligible for benefits would not have to pay a paisa for the amount waived under the notification issued.” “We are doing this despite the poor fiscal situation prevailing in the state,” he said.
Lashing out at the his political rivals, Singh alleged that the opposition has been “misleading” farmers on the issue for their own petty political gains, without taking into account the effect it will have on them. “This is the height of irresponsibility on the part of the opposition. The opposition should, in fact, appreciate the fact that despite the huge financial constraints, my government has waived debt higher than most other states,” he said. On smart phones, he said the government was in discussion with some telecom companies to work out a scheme and would start implementing the same soon.
“Let me remind you that we, at no point, promised implementation of all our pre-poll commitments within the first six months of assuming power. Implementation takes time, especially when the financial constraints are so massive, and we need to prioritise things,” Singh said. By all accounts, debt waiver was a bigger need than smart phones, he said. “Having said that, let me reiterate that not a single poll promise will go unimplemented by my government,” Singh said.