Financial position not a concern for BJP
Chandigarh October 13:
The precarious financial position of Punjab has not moved the leaders of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Punjab, for whom taking a principled stand on the Centre’s `35,000 crore debt waiver is proving to be a monstrous task.
The party leaders seem to be scared of the condition of levying tax on the urban residential properties, a condition the Central Government has linked to the debt waiver. Punjab is perhaps the only State in the country where urban residential properties have been exempted from any kind of taxes while commercial properties are taxed. Since the BJP’s principal support base lies in the urban areas, the party is unwilling to take any risk in view of the upcoming Assembly poll in early 2012.
As a result, when Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal claimed to have the support of several BJP Ministers as well, Chief Minister Parkash Badal is learnt to have personally spoken to Industries and Local Bodies Minister Manoranjan Kalia to clear the air. Kalia called mediapersons at his official residence on Monday night to say that Manpreet should seek the support of Chief Minister Badal, and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.
Kalia, a senior BJP leader and the third to none in the SAD-BJP Government, had recently stirred a hornet’s nest by accusing the SAD leadership of carrying out the development works in a lopsided manner. His statement had not gone down well with the SAD leadership, but he stuck to that. It is true that the BJP leaders are not in favour of levying taxes on the urban residential properties, as they were opposed to upward revision of power tariff in urban areas as well.
They have, however, reservations about how the State’s financial situation is being managed, and find fault with the way the State Government is managing the economy. After all, Finance Ministry is with the SAD, currently held by Manpreet Singh. “There is not much scope for debate and discussion on many issues in the current regime. We as ally have our limitations, and cannot cross the limits,” admitted a senior BJP functionary. “We get 23 Assembly seats out of 117 to contest, while in the Lok Sabha, we get just three seats to contest,” he added.
The BJP leaders have remained as a passive spectator to what is going on between the SAD and Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal. So far as the action and stand of SAD about Manpreet is concerned, the BJP leaders have certainly no role to play. The party, however, must come forth on what is being said by Manpreet Singh, and the Government on the issue of debt waiver. “The Centre is blackmailing the State on the issue of debt waiver. It does not want to help us out.
If that is the case, then why does the centre link the waiver to a set of conditions, which cannot be met at all,” said former Punjab unit BJP chief Rajinder Bhandari. With Manpreet refusing to lie low over the issue of debt waiver, the crisis in the ruling SAD is doomed to deepen further with the disciplinary committee meeting, recommending his suspension from the party. Manpreet is also likely to make detailed presentation before media on the debt waiver. A head on collision between Manpreet and the SAD is not being ruled out, as none of the two is showing any restrain in controlling the situation, but are rather leaving nothing unturned to aggravate the crisis through inflammatory moves and counter-moves.