Chandigarh: To position himself as the chief ministerial candidate of the Congress in Punjab, state unit chief Navjot Singh Sidhu on Tuesday said it is the people who will choose the next Chief Minister of the state.
Unveiling the first set of plans in his Punjab Model with focus on resurrection of Punjab, Sidhu, in the absence of Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and his Cabinet colleagues, told the media here: “Punjab Model is people’s model, an effort to give a roadmap to return power to people.”
To counter powerful ‘mafia model’, which has power to even stop the notification of Cabinet passed resolution, he said a model is needed to redistribute state resources and give power back to rightful beneficiaries.
Explaining about Punjab Model, cricketer-turned-politician Sidhu, who often boasts of his proximity with the Gandhi family — Rahul and Priyanka — talked about setting up state-run corporations in liquor, mining, transport, cable television and river water to rejuvenate state’s financial resources and check revenue pilferages in the next five years, if the Congress returns to power in the Assembly elections slated on February 14.
He asserted that his ‘Punjab Model 2022’ will create not only more jobs but will also generate revenue and plug revenue pilferages.
He was categorically clear in saying that, “Punjab is not the property of an individual.”
Slamming the Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Badal, Sidhu said: “Why do Badals have monopoly in buses and cable business? In the past five years, the state has a loss of Rs 5,000 crore owing to their monopoly. We will break the monopoly. It can be recovered too. The end objective is to empower local operators and give cheap cable to people.”
According to Sidhu, Badal’s Fastway cable network has 70-80 per cent TV connections in the state and the data it is sharing with government is less than two-third. In 2007, the Badals made laws to protect its monopoly.
“So is state’s transport policy that needs to end the mafia of the Badals,” said Sidhu, who reiterated that it is important to give power back to people of Punjab.
He often accused the Badals and former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, when he was at the state’s helm, of stalling a law proposed by him which would have ended Fastway’s monopoly.
“Today Punjab needs a governance reform which translates public issues into policies with a poverty reduction strategy,” Sidhu, whose party’s government is going to the polls for re-election, stressed.
Picking holes in his own government, Sidhu said Punjab Model will have a government-run sand mining corporation in the state that has 1,300-km long riverbed with 102 sites and the illegal mining is so rampant.
The ‘resurrect’ Punjab will run its own liquor vends and distilleries to boost excise revenue.
“This will earn revenue for the crash-strapped state government on the pattern of Tamil Nadu,” he said.