Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann Saturday accused the BJP of not being a well-wisher of Punjab, claiming the state did not find a mention in the Union budget and the Centre had imposed the rail-ship-rail route condition for transporting coal to power plant. Punjabis still remembered that the BJP-led Union Government "disrespected" the sacrifices of the brave warriors of Punjab by pulling out the state's tableau from the Republic Day parade, he said.
"If the BJP really has some fondness for the state, then why was Punjab not even mentioned in the Union Budget," the chief minister asked. "How can a party that imposed conditions like the rail-ship-rail route to bring coal via Sri Lanka, be a well-wisher of Punjab? Is this the kind of love the BJP has for Punjab?" he asked.
Punjab's ruling AAP had earlier slammed the Centre for asking the state government to lift coal using RSR mode, claiming that it would put an additional financial burden on the state power utility. Last month, Chief Minister Mann had said the Centre has agreed to waive the rail-ship-rail condition for coal supply. Participating in the debate on the budget estimates in the Punjab Assembly here, Mann hailed the budget presented by Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema on Friday.
Referring to a BJP MLA's statement that the AAP government criticizes the Centre and at the same time seeks funds from it, Mann said Punjab is not begging for funds rather it is its constitutional right. "We are collecting GST for the Union government and demanding our rightful share from this," Mann said. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal made electricity free and was providing free education and health services, Mann said.
"Now 'Bade Sahab' says 'free ki revdi ki baante hain' (they are giving freebies). How can giving free electricity, education and free medical treatment with the tax money of people be 'free ki revdi'," he asked. "If it is so, then I want to ask 'bade sahab' about Rs 15 lakh for each family and the promise of 2 crore jobs every year," Mann said.He also accused the BJP of harassing political rivals.
The chief minister said that the former finance minister who presented the budget for nine years during the Akali-BJP and Congress governments brought the state on the "verge of disaster".Without naming Manpreet Badal, he ridiculed the former finance minister for criticising the AAP government for the budget and called him a "chameleon" who switched parties frequently for his own vested interests.
About opposition members targeting the government over the Rs 164 crore allocation for Punjabi University, Mann assured the house that his government will not allow any university to suffer any financial loss.