Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today openly declared that the Shiromani Akali Dal’s (SAD) unequivocal stand on Federalism was vindicated with the BJP led NDA government at centre’s decision to give a major pie in the share of central taxes to the states from 32% to 42% besides scrapping the archaic Planning Commission of India (PCI) - the central agency to formulate and implement plans for the entire country and replacing it by progressive NITI aayog.Interacting with the media persons on the sidelines of a function to mark Hola Mohalla here today, the Chief Minister said that the SAD- a votary of true federalism had been waging a relentless battle for securing financial autonomy for the states since long to implement their programs and schemes intended for the overall development of the state and the welfare of their people. Mr. Badal recalled that for the first time in the history of Indian polity spanning over more than six decades, any government at helms of central affairs has conceded to the long pending demand of the party and now they were hopeful that the states would not be merely treated as beggars looking at centre for even their petty demands. Rather, he said that they would be the full fledged partners in the development process of the states viz-a-viz the country.
Badal said that all the Chief Ministers in future would have equal say in the planning process adopted by the NITI aayog, which he termed as be a ‘paradigm shift’ from the centralized approach followed by the erstwhile PCI thereby now ushering an era of harmonious centre-state relations. The Chief Minister further said that the centre’s benevolence showered upon the state was reflected from the recently announced general budget in which Punjab was allotted prestigious AIIMS, Horticulture Research Institute and above all world class heritage status to the Jallianwala Bagh memorial in holy city of Amritsar. Mr. Badal also disclosed that the Union Surface Transport Minister Mr. Nitin Gadkari had already accorded in principle approval to the Guru Gobind Singh Marg from Sri Anandpur Sahib to Takht Sri Hazur Sahib passing through six states including Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra under the national highway project. He said that a good start has been made by the NDA government and the day was not very far off when Punjab, which had been hitherto blatantly ignored by the previous Congress governments would be duly compensated with more such projects in the near future.
Asked to comment on the electoral prospects of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab, the Chief Minister out rightly said that they have no future in the state as the massive mandate to the SAD-BJP alliance in recently concluded civic polls indicated that the wise people of the state were solidly behind the alliance government and its pro-people and result oriented policies. The Chief Minister also announced that the state government would make budgetary provisions in the forthcoming budget to commemorate the concluding year long celebrations on June 19, 2015 to mark the 350th foundation anniversary of Sri Anandpur Sahib in a befitting manner. Mr. Badal said that he would also personally request the Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi to attend the function on this historic day.
Earlier addressing the massive gathering, the Chief Minister said that this historic day reminds all of us of rich legacy behind this sacred ‘Hola Mohalla’ festival, which symbolized the tenth Sikh Master Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s great ideology and endeavor to infuse the undying spirit of well being (Chardi Kala) amongst the Sikhs to fight against tyranny, oppression and injustice unleashed by the Mughal rulers. Paying rich tributes to the Sikh Gurus, Mr. Badal said that the SAD was deriving a sense of responsibility and spirit of service towards the mankind by following their footsteps and it was a matter of great pride and honor that Punjab was the only state in the country which was a perfect blend of ‘socialism and secularism’ on one hand and an epitome of communal harmony, peace and brotherhood on the other. Highlighting the landmark achievements in different sectors like Health, Education, social security and others, he said that the state government had pioneered several key projects and initiated a number of pro-people schemes aimed at ensuring the well being of all sections of society.
Earlier in his address, Deputy Chief Minister Mr. Sukhbir Singh Badal said that the SAD was the second oldest political party after the Congress and a real political outfit which could feel the pulse of the people and satiate their needs accordingly. He said that the service of the humanity was the prime motto of their government. Mr. Sukhbir Singh Badal also recalled the supreme sacrifices made by the stalwarts of SAD since its inception, which was a source of inspiration for the entire rank and file of the party to work zealously for the upliftment of the poor and weaker sections of the society besides ensuring overall development of the state and prosperity of its people.
The Deputy Chief Minister outlined many firsts to the credit of the SAD-BJP alliance government like Atta-Dal, Pension, Mai Bhago Vidya, Shagun, Bhagat Puran Singh Sehat Beema and other social security schemes adding he said that few of such path breaking initiatives have been replicated at national level and by other states. Mentioning about an upcoming project to set up Rural Service Centers across the state as an integrated part of governance reforms, Mr. Sukhbir Singh Badal said that the basic objective of this ambitious program was to ensure delivery of citizen centric services to rural populace in a hassle free manner, which was hitherto only accessible to the urban population. He reiterated that this project was the outcome of state government’s commitment towards zero tolerance towards corruption in public offices.Likewise, the Deputy Chief Minister said that the state government has spend nearly Rs 1000 crore for perpetuating the rich legacy of state by creating a network of several magnificent memorials viz. Virasat-e-Khalsa, Baba Banda Singh Bahadur War Memorial, Chotta Ghallugara and Vadda Ghalugarra memorials. Apart from these several other state of the art memorials like Jang-e-Azaadi, War Heroes Memorial cum museum, Baba Jiwan Singh Memorial, Sri Guru Ravidass memorial and others were in pipeline. Mr. Sukhbir Singh Badal said that these memorials were the brainchild of Chief Minister, so as to keep our younger generations abreast with the glorious and rich cultural and historic legacy of the state.
Earlier the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister paid obeisance at Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib and were offered a siropas by Jathedar Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib Giani Mal Singh. The Chief Minister also visited Sri Dashmesh Academy and planted a sapling there to mark the ‘tree plantation drive’ in the precincts of the premier residential school. Mr. Badal also reviewed the progress of the school in a meeting with the management of the institution and was updated about the developments in the academic and sports field by the Principal. Prominent amongst other who spoke on the occasion included Cabinet Ministers Dr. Daljit Singh Cheema and Madan Mohan Mittal, Lok Sabha MP Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, Rajya Sabha MP Balwinder Singh Bhunder, President Istri Akali Dal and MLA Bibi Jagir Kaur, SGPC Chief Jathedar Avtar Singh, President DSGMC Mr. Manjit Singh GK and former Union Minister Mr. Balwant Singh Ramoowalia. Advisor to Chief Minister on National Affairs and Media Mr. Harcharan Bains, Cabinet Ministers Jathedar Tota Singh, Jathedar Ajit Singh Kohar and Mr. Sohan Singh Thandal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary Chaudhary Nand Lal and Special Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Dr S Karunaraju were also present on the occasion. Apart from these several leaders and workers of SAD-BJP alliance and members of SGPC also graced the occasion.