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Cong manifesto is not populist: Manpreet

Cong manifesto is not populist: Manpreet

Chandigarh: Defending the promises made in his party’s manifesto, Punjab Congress leader Manpreet Singh Badal said the election document was not populist, but an attempt to “redeem Punjab’s honour”. Manpreet was a co-chairperson of the committee that drafted the manifesto. Asked about the reported stand he had taken against subsidies during his term as Punjab finance minister with the Akali government, Manpreet denied taking any “U-turn”. He claimed that he had not changed his stance on any issue, except free power for farmers, saying that it was the need of the hour in view of the agrarian crisis in the state. “I had presented four budgets as finance minister and the power subsidy was a part of it. I had resigned over the issue of debt. Later, a rumour about my opposition to power to farmers was spread,” he claimed. Elaborating on the move to reduce the number of liquor vends by 5% annually, Manpreet said though he had suggested 10% reduction, it was later felt that it would be too drastic. “The idea is to discourage drinking. People should have to plan their drinks. Vends should ideally remain at the district headquarters,” he said. In Punjab, the number of liquor vends has doubled in the past ten years. Replying to a question on whether the manifesto was inspired by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Manpreet said that it wasn’t the case as his previous party, People’s Party of Punjab (PPP), had come up with the ideology of welfare of the common man four years before AAP.  On the issue of implementing the Swaminathan Commission report on minimum support price for crops, Manpreet said the Congress government would take up the matter strongly with the Centre. “If it fails to implement the suggestions of the commission, then the next Congress government at the Centre would take on the mantle of doing so,” he said. The party will also introduce several important police reforms in line with Supreme Court directives and centered on zero tolerance for political interference at any level. Meanwhile, in Delhi Manmohan Singh and Captain Amarinder agreed that demonetisation would be an issue in Punjab, along with other issues plaguing the people of the state. The former PM expressed concern at the impact of demonetisation on GDP.

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