Sri Anandpur Sahib: Accusing the Congress-led UPA of excessive centralisation of power, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today said states have been reduced to the status of "dignified municipal committees."
"Rather than helping, the central government has usurped the rights of the states, rendering them to the status of dignified municipal committees," the 85-year-old five-time Chief Minister said, while addressing a public gathering here.
Stressing on setting up of a "genuinely federal structure" in the country, Badal said the sole reason for the fiscal mess in many states, "is the excessive centralisation of powers by the UPA government".
"The federal structure is the need of the hour to ensure balanced regional growth," he said adding that the Centre should redefine central-state relations.
Lashing out at the Congress he said, "The people of Punjab have shown the door to Congress leaders due to their dubious track record of remaining mute spectators on the face of grave injustice with the state."
By exorbitantly hiking fertiliser prices and other agricultural inputs like diesel, "the Union government has broken the back of farmers," Badal alleged.
The Centre`s mere Rs 500 crore allocation for green revolution states, primarily Punjab, was "just peanuts to undertake massive crop diversification programme, to pull out the beleaguered peasantry," he added.
Earlier in his address, Deputy Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal said, in order to check the menace of drug addiction in the state, the SAD-BJP government has adopted zero tolerance policy towards drug peddlers.
Soon a helpline will be set up by the government where people will be able to lodge their complaints, besides giving vital inputs on checking drug trafficking in the state, he said.
All senior secondary students in government schools securing 80 per cent or above marks will get an annual scholarship of Rs 30,000 under the Dr Hargobind Khurana scholarship scheme, Sukhbir said adding that BPL families will get Rs 30,000 medical insurance for each member under the Bhagat Puran Singh Health Welfare Scheme.
BPL families will also get free life insurance and children belonging to these families will get a monthly stipend of Rs 200 each, he added.
Meanwhile, newly appointed Punjab Congress president Pratap Singh Bajwa addressed a political conference where he said, the party will start a Morcha from Ropar against the "anti-people" policies of the Akalis to expose their misdeeds.
A meeting of the PCC has been called on April 2 to chalk out plans for the agitation programme.
The Punjab government has failed on all fronts and "Congress as a sincere Opposition, will raise these issues on public platform," Bajwa added.
The SAD and Congress leaders called upon their respective party workers to get ready for the Lok Sabha polls. The ruling and the main Opposition parties organised political conferences here as part of Holla Mohalla, a religious festival of the Sikhs.