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From free power to 26k jobs to anti-graft helpline: but for some bumps, Punjab CM Mann’s govt hits ground running

In its brief tenure, the Aam Aadmi Party government in Punjab has sought to fulfil several of its election promises like providing free electricity, jobs and ration at the doorstep. The party has also courted several controversies.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh |
Updated: May 4, 2022 9:22:46 am
The Mann Cabinet, during its meeting on Monday, approved filling up of 26,454 posts in various state government departments. (Express File Photo by Kamleshwar Singh)

From announcing free power up to 300 units for every household in Punjab from July 1, to approving the recruitment of youths in over 26,000 posts, to clearing the doorstep ration delivery scheme, the Bhagwant Mann-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government seems to have hit the ground running in its initial days while seeking to fulfil the party’s major “guarantees” given to the people during its campaign for the February 2022 Assembly polls.

After the AAP swept the Punjab elections bagging 92 out of the total 117 seats in a stunning triumph, Mann took over as the Chief Minister on March 16.

Marking the AAP government’s 47th day in office, the Mann Cabinet, during its meeting on Monday, approved filling up of 26,454 posts in various state government departments.

The Mann government has identified these jobs comprising of group A,B, C posts in departments including the home affairs, school education, health, power and technical education. The government has also decided that there would be no interview for the group C recruitments.

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Spearheading the AAP’s poll campaign as its CM face, Mann had pledged that if the voters would give his party the mandate to rule and “hand him the green pen” the first order he will sign with it will be to clear jobs for the state’s unemployed youths. After being sworn in as the CM, his first announcement was pertaining to providing 25,000 government jobs for youths.

During its Monday meeting, the Mann Cabinet put its stamp of approval on the proposal to deliver ration at people’s doorsteps too.

It also approved the one-legislator-one-pension norm, thereby doing away with multiple pensions for MLAs that the previous governments had been implementing. This was among the AAP’s promises made earlier. With several legislators getting more than Rs 3 lakh pension per month in a debt-ridden state like Punjab, this had turned into a major political issue in the state.

In one of his early decisions as the CM, Mann announced an anti-corruption helpline. He decided to impose a cap on hike in school fees. He also asked state officials to go to the field and listen to the grievances of the people in their respective belts. To deal with the menace of gangsters in the state, the AAP government has set up an anti-gangster task force.

The government has also declared a bonus of Rs 1,500 per acre for farmers who would adopt the direct sowing of rice (DSR) in order to save the depleting underground water table. The drying up of underground aquifers has been a major issue in the state, with the paddy crop blamed for over-exploitation of water resource.

The AAP’s key election pledge to give Rs 1,000 per month to every Punjab woman aged above 18 years, which will have a significant impact on the exchequer, is yet to be fulfilled. Social security minister Dr Baljit Kaur recently announced that the upcoming state budget will roll out this cash handout scheme.

The Mann dispensation’s decision to regularise the services of 35,000 contractual employees is also yet to see the light of the day, even as this move may face legal hurdles.

During its brief tenure so far, the AAP government has courted several controversies as well. Recently, a row broke out when Punjab signed an MoU with Delhi on sharing of knowledge between them, with some AAP critics questioning how could the border state share its “confidential matters” with another state.

A controversy had erupted on April 11, when AAP supremo and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal held a meeting of Punjab officials, from which Mann remained absent, with Kejriwal drawing fire from various quarters for making an alleged bid to “remote-control” the Mann government.

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