CM tells ministers to toe partyline, subsidies to continue

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Chandigarh, Oct 1 (UNI) Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today asked his cabinet colleagues to desist from issuing ''irresponsible statements'' which contradicted declared party and government line and created confusion regarding government's commitment to the cause of the people.

In an apparent reaction to Finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal reiterating his anti-subsidies stand at a press meeting here yesterday, Mr Badal cautioned, ''No individual should put his personal thinking was above the party's and the government's vision.'' Mr Badal stressed that every member of his cabinet and every SAD-BJP legislator must stay committed to the programmes and policies on which they had received a mandate.

The Chief Minister strongly defended his government's ''pro-poor and people friendly'' welfare policies and declared that the SAD-BJP government would continue with these policies, including subsidies, pensions, free-power, cheaper atta daal for the poor and Shagun scheme for dalit girls.

"Let me end the confusion once and for all. These policies are here to stay and we have no intention at all of betraying the trust which the people of the state have placed in us. This is not a government of the rich and the famous, " The Chief Minister declared in a statement here today.

In an obvious rebuttal to the finance minister's argument that these schemes put a ''massive burden'' on the state exchequer, MrBadal said that these schemes were not merely populist measures but were ''an integral part of the incentive-based and growth-oriented economic policies''.

Mr Badal pointed out that due to the free-power to the farmers, the state registered a record 30 per cent increase in agricultural production and had contributed largely to the Central pool.

Moreover, Punjab was not alone in giving such subsidies, the CM noted saying that the Centre and even advanced countries like the USA doled out heavy subsidisation in key areas like agriculture as well as to welfare polices. This, he said, was done in order to encourage economic growth and to fulfill their social commitments.

UNI JN MMS1816

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