The legislators in the new Punjab Assembly would soon get connected with the electorate in the virtual world as the state government would gift them laptops along with Internet data cards. However,the free laptops that the SAD-BJP combine had promised to all the Class XII students in the government schools in its election manifesto would have to wait. The students would get it next year while the legislators will get the laptops ahead of the Budget Session likely to be held in June.
Talking with The Indian Express,Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhinsa,said,It is the first time that the MLAs would be given laptops. A special software would be installed in the laptops so that the legislators can study the budget. In future all the documents regarding finance would be sent to the legislators in the soft copy format.
Earlier,in 2009,the Assembly had adopted the report of General Purpose Committee headed by the then Speaker,Nirmal Singh Kahlon,recommending laptops for the MLAs. The recommendation could not be implemented owing partially to lack of funds.
However,the present government would soon set the process to buy the machines in motion.
The IT department will work out the modalities to buy the laptops and the internet data card. Funds have been arranged for the same, Dhinsa added.
The IT department would buy the laptops in bulk. Each laptop will cost nearly Rs 30,000 and the finance department would have to shell out nearly Rs 50 lakh to get the machines for all the 117 MLAs, an officer said.
Queried about the free laptops to students,Dhinsa said,It will take time as we are working on arranging the funds. Free laptops and data cards to all the students would only be possible next year.
Earlier,while presenting the vote-on-account in the Assembly on March 28,Dhinsa had said that the government would provide laptops to all the MLAs for effective monitoring of the development programmes.
All the legislators in the present Assembly are literate. While 16 out of 117 MLAs have cleared Class VIII,all the others are graduates or have higher qualifications. The ruling SAD leads the list of graduates (31 out of 56),followed by Congress (24) and BJP (6).
Also all the legislators are above 30 years of age with only two legislators being more than 80-years old.