With strategist Prashant Kishor by his side, Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh has set up a team of about a dozen members to study, analyse and work out solutions to pressing issues confronting Punjab, and prepare a blueprint for the party’s manifesto for the 2017 Assembly elections.
Some of the members in the team include former state finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal and former chief secretaries during Amarinder’s tenure, KR Lakhanpal and Jai Singh Gill, besides celebrity Sufi singer Rabbi Shergill.
Former Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) Dr K S Aulakh, former Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge Justice Mehtab Singh Gill (retd.), noted economist Dr Sucha Singh Gill, former CLP leader Sunil Jakhar, president of SC wing of PPCC Dr Raj Kumar Chabewal, former Chief General Manager of Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) and now chairman of social media cell of PPCC Gurpartap Singh Mann and party’s student leader Gobind Khatra have been assigned to study various issues.
Capt Amarinder told The Indian Express that the team, divided into sub-committees, would be studying issues like drugs, funds crunch, farm crisis,unemployment, flight of industry from Punjab, infrastructure development, besides youth and dalit issues, will come up with a paper each in two months time.
“We will then meet to prepare a master paper. This master paper would be submitted to the manifesto committee of the party, to be set up by Congress president Sonia Gandhi,” he said.
Manpreet, Lakhanpal and Dr Gill will look into the state’s economy and industry. “We know is in a mess as far as funds are concerned. People are already over-burdened due to taxes. We cannot impose more taxes. Therefore, these experts would study the areas that could help us in mopping up resources,” said Amarinder.
While Justice Gill would advise on how to tackle the drug menace legally, Dr Aulakh would prepare a report on the farm crisis and suggest practical ways and means for diversification.
The team already met once on Republic Day.
The team will also find ways and means to tap into the youth voter base.
“As per GoI data, 9 million people are in the age group of 18 to 40. That is a huge force. We have to address them separately,” said Amarinder.
Sufi singer Shergill, who supported the AAP in 2013, said, “I was contacted by a common link to help Amarinder. Captain is coming up with fresh new ideas and it is the need of the hour.”