Taking cue from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to lure women voters ahead of the assembly polls in Punjab, state Congress President Navjot Sidhu on Monday announced a slew of incentives for them by promising that 33 per cent of all job cards under the Punjab Urban Employment Guarantee Mission would be reserved for the fair sex.Also all women working as farm labourers in small farms would get wages under the MNREGA, besides special women commando battalions for women safety in every village and city of Punjab.Sidhu promised Rs 2,000 per month for women homemakers, if the Congress is voted to power. Also he promised eight free cooking gas cylinders to housewife in a year.For the girls taking admission in colleges, he promised to provide two-wheelers, besides Rs 20,000 to those passing Class XII, Rs 15,000 for passing Class X and Rs 5,000 to those passing fifth grade.Sidhu made these announcements at a rally in Barnala district, the stronghold of AAP.After the rally, Sidhu said in a tweet, "Women have to lead from forefront in Punjab's Resurrection story. Just freebies don't mean holistic empowerment."Punjab Model of Women empowerment follows rights based approach to honour merit, to provide resources to girls to excel, develop requisite skills & take Punjab forward.
"The cricketer-turned politician said special skilling centre for women in each district of Punjab would be set up. "Every woman who wants to start their own business from home to a large-scale industry, will get interest and collateral free loans up to Rs 2-16 lakh, with a separate ease-of-doing business government window for women startups."Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal in November last year promised to transfer Rs 1,000 per month into the accounts of all women in Punjab, if the party is voted to power.In addition, the elderly women will get a hike of Rs 1,000 in the monthly old-age pension.Meanwhile taking a jibe at Sidhu over his election promises, AAP's Punjab affairs co in-charge Raghav Chadha accused the previous Akali-BJP and the current Congress government of plunging Punjab in debt.He said, "The Congress and Badal governments have made Punjab a debtor of Rs 3 lakh crore in the last 50 years. With the population of 3 crore, today every individual in Punjab has a debt of Rs 1 lakh. Every child who is born in Punjab already has a debt of Rs 1 lakh on them right after their birth.""It is very surprising that 20 per cent of the annual budget of Punjab is being spent only to pay the interest of the loan. If the state government did not have so much debt, then this money would have been used for good hospitals, schools, roads, overbridges and other facilities for the people. But the public's tax money is being spent in repaying the debt of Rs 3 lakh crore," Chadha added.