No cohesion between Akalis, BJP in Punjab: Cong

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Chandigarh, Mar 20 (UNI) The Opposition today claimed that progress and development in Punjab had suffered as there was no cohesion between the two ruling alliance partners-- the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the BJP.

'' There is no unity of thought between the two'', Brahm Mohindra (Cong) said while speaking on the discussion on the Budget estimate in the State Assembly here today.

Refering to the pro-rural image of the SAD and BJP's concern about the urban areas, the Congress member said the two parties were pulling in opposite directions. '' Development cannot move forward in such a situation '', he added.

Refering to the Budget estimate, Mr Mohindra said it showed the complete helplessness of Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal.

The FM wanted to give some relief to the people but could not do so as the model code of conduct for the Panchayat polls was in force, he said while pleading to the Minister to announce relief measures for all sections when he winds up the debate on the Budget.

Refering to the grim power scenario in the State, the Congress member said the Budget estimate made no reference to huge deficit that the State electricity board was facing on account of the free power scheme for tubewells.

Pointing out that the State Fifth Pay Commission would come out with its report in the next fiscal year, Mr Mohindra said the Budget estimate made no mention of the funds to be kept aside for payment to the employees based on the Commission's recommendations.

He also made mention of the poor condition of the government medical colleges in the State due to the lack of funds.

Taking part in the discussions, Jagdish Sahni (BJP) appreciated the FM's efforts to pull the State economy out of the red and put it back on the path of progress.

Pointing out that a majority of the development funds were earmarked for the rural areas, Mr Sahni said the cities and towns in the State were in shambles and needed funds were development.

Capt Balbir Singh Baath (SAD) despite appreciating the Budget advised the FM to revamp the tax collection system. '' If the Macdonalds outlets near Ludhiana is paying Rs one crore VAT annually, then definately the system needs a revamping as collection from other sources is below the mark'', he added.

Regarding free power scheme for tubewell operators in the agri sector, Capt Baath said this was needed in Punjab at this juncture.

The people are willing to pay but the government must lay stress on quality supply of power, he suggested.

Ishar Singh (Cong) and Harish Bedi (BJP) also took part in the discussions.

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