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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

To trump AAP assurance, Sidhu promises Rs 2k to women homemakers, 8 LPG cylinders

Sidhu’s announcements sent the Congress government in a tizzy. Cabinet Minister Rana Gurjeet Singh took on the PPCC chief and said that he was going on making promises even before the manifesto was announced.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh |
Updated: January 3, 2022 11:20:47 pm
Sidhu's promises go beyond A Kejriwal's pre-poll assurances for women in Punjab. (File)

AMID a scramble to woo voters ahead of the 2022 state Assembly polls, Punjab Congress chief tried to get one-up on AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal as he promised Rs 2,000 per month for women homemakers if his party returns to power. Sidhu also promised eight free cooking gas cylinders to homemakers every year.

The state Congress chief further assured two-wheelers to girls taking admission in colleges for further studies, Rs 20,000 to those passing Class 12, Rs 15,000 to the ones passing Class 10 and Rs 5,000 to those passing Class 5. The promises included a digital tablet for girls in Class 11, an EV Scooty and scholarship for college students and interest free loans for girls pursuing higher studies/PhDs.

He also declared that no registration, stamp duty and court fee for lands registered in the name of women.

Sidhu’s promises go beyond A Kejriwal’s pre-poll assurances for women in Punjab.

Interestingly, Sidhu made his announcement Monday, a day after the campaign committee of the party discussed that AAP’s Rs 1,000 promise was getting a huge traction. During the meeting, Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi had sought 24 hours from the party colleagues to work out the finances.

Channi spent a few hours discussing the issue with Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal till Sunday midnight. Before the duo could reach a decision, Sidhu went ahead and made the announcement at Bhadaur on Monday.

Sidhu had other freebies reserved for women as part of his Punjab Model that he pushed at Bhadaur.

He announced that 33 per cent of all job cards under Punjab Urban Employment Guarantee Mission would be reserved for women and all women working as farm labourers in small farms would get wages under the MNREGA. Further, special women commando battalions for women safety will be set up in every village and city of Punjab, he promised.

The PPCC chief said that every woman who wants to start her own business from home or a large scale industry will get interest and collateral free loan up to Rs 2-16 lakh, with a separate ease of doing business government window for women start-ups. He also promised to set up 28 skill development centres for women across the state.

Addressing the rally, Sidhu made the promises while stressing the need for empowering women in the state.

Sidhu’s announcements sent the Congress government in a tizzy. Cabinet Minister Rana Gurjeet Singh took on the PPCC chief and said that he was going on making promises even before the manifesto was announced.

A few questioned how the government would pay not only Rs 24,000 crore as honorarium to women every year but also for eight cylinders to every household. There are about 56 lakh households in the state. Sidhu has announced that the women empowerment scheme would be funded from taxes on liquor.

Campaign committee chief Sunil Jakhar also hit back at Sidhu by saying, “Increasing the collections from excise seems to be the basis for the promises being doled out by all the parties. Even if it were not as absurd as it sounds, any economic model which is to be primarily fuelled by sale of liquor is not what Punjab deserves. If ‘chitta’ has been the bane then liquor is no elixir to be propagated! Please don’t lead the youth astray. Hard work, blood, toil, tears and sweat has always been the Punjabi way to progress and prosperity,” Jakhar said in a statement.

Sources told The Indian Express that during Sunday’s Campaign Committee meeting chaired by its chairman Sunil Kumar Jakhar, the leaders discussed that government’s cheaper power was helping the Congress.

Then it was also raised that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s promise that every women in Punjab would be given Rs 1,000 per month if AAP was voted to power, was attracting women in the state.

Following this a few leaders told the CM, who was also a part of the meeting, that the government should pay Rs 3,000 at the rate of Rs 1,000 per month in every woman’s account for Channi’s 100-days rule and checkmate AAP.

“It was also discussed that the freebie would cost the state Rs 12,000 crore per year and Rs 3,000 crore would be needed to pay the women for three months of Channi’s rule. Some leaders suggested that the government should buy an empty LPG cylinder so that they remember Congress each time they use it. To this, Channi is learnt to have stated that he would have to discuss it with the Finance Department as there are about 1.20 crore women voters in the state, sources said.

“Also, it was raised that even if the government made the funds available, the state would not have data of all women’s accounts. As the campaign committee brainstormed the issue, the CM told the leaders that he would require 24 hours to think it through after taking inputs from the Finance Department. Before Channi could announce it, Sidhu went ahead and promised Rs 2,000 per month for women. He also went to the extent of promising eight cylinders for every household in a year,” said a source.

Sidhu’s pitch to woo women voters

·       Rs 2,000/month for women homemakers

·       8 free LPG cylinders

·       Rs 20,000 for passing Class 12

·       Rs 15,000 to for passing Class 10

·       Rs 5,000 for passing Class 5

·       Tablet for girls in Class 11

·       EV scooty, scholarships for girls in college

·       Free land registry for women, no court or stamp duty fee

·       33% job cards for women under Punjab Urban Employment Guarantee Mission

·       MNREGA wages for women labourers in small farms

·       Special women commando battalions for women safety in villages

·       Separate govt window for women start-ups

·       Rs 2-16 lakh interest free, collateral free loans for businesswoman

·       28 skill development centres for women in state

Mustafa, Pargat fail on Sidhu

A late night meeting between PPCC chief, Cabinet Minister Pargat Singh, chief strategic advisor to Sidhu, Mohd Mustafa, failed to yield any results. Sources said that the duo met Sidhu on Sunday night and advised him not to insist on declaring him as the CM candidate. They added that Sidhu was not on board with the suggestion. They said he had been feeling that the CM was not working as a team with Sidhu and this was leaving him frustrated. “The matter now requires Gandhis’ intervention,” said a source.

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