PUNJAB POLLS: Congress promises women’s empowerment

Nothing has been said formally, but it seems the overwhelming Congress decision is that current Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu will be projected as the Chief Ministerial candidate.

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By Chanakya

Voting to elect 117 members (in 23 districts) of the Punjab Legislative Assembly will be conducted on February 14, 2022, in a single phase. The counting of votes will take place on March 10. This was announced by the Election Commission of India on Saturday.

As of now the best set of promises have come forward though no manifesto has been prepared yet from the Congress, the ruling party. Only the Aam Admi Party, the main opposition party in the state, has released its manifesto.

According to state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, one of the main promises this year will be on women’s safety and women’s empowerment. Speaking to the media, Sidhu has said that if Congress comes to power again, women will be given financial incentives in passing school and till higher education. Also, there will be no stamp duty imposed if property is transferred by anybody in the name of the daughter. This is a big move, because property transfer rate to women has been abysmally low in Punjab.

Sidhu’s comments carry weight, because in these elections he seems to be the face of the party. It is being rumoured – though there has been no official confirmation on this that Sidhu will be the Chief Minster face of the party at the polls. This means that the Congress will probably throw out its strategy of having a Dalit Sikh at the top, as Charanjit Singh Channi was foisted to the top.

The meeting of the central election committee of the Congress to finalise the first list of candidates, that was scheduled today, has been postponed, as chairman Ajay Maken is reported to have tested positive for Covid-19.

On June 13, 2021, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) announced an alliance for the assembly election with 97-20 seat sharing. On December 28 last year, BJP, Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) and Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt) its chief is Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, who broke away from SAD main, after it cuts its ties with the NDA, following the farmers’ protest – announced an alliance for the assembly elections.

THE AAP PROMISES
AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal made a third promise to the people of poll-bound Punjab, announcing that Rs 1,000 would be given to women (Aged 18 and Above) if his party comes to power in the state.

  • 300 units of free electricity per month for each household in Punjab. Kejriwal also promised 24-hour power supply in Punjab and waiver of pending electricity bills if his party is voted to power.
  • Property tax will be abolished and Domestic electricity rates up to 400 units will be halved.
  • Punjab farmers will be Debt-free by December 2018.
  • Punjab will be made drug free within one month of the formation of the government. Rehabilitation and de-addiction of drug victims within six months.
  • 25 lakh jobs and employment opportunities will be created in the next five years. “Our endeavour is to make the Punjab youth ‘job creators’ instead of ‘job seekers’ (this is what Sidhu has also said). The AAP Government will create employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in both rural and urban areas.”
  • Free Laptops on admission to 9th Class. On admission to 9th class, students will be given free laptops at the beginning of the session, under the Chief Minister’s Student Benefit Scheme.
  • Higher Education Guarantee Scheme. To ensure that no child is deprived of higher education for want of money, AAP will introduce Higher Education Guarantee Scheme on the Delhi pattern to provide education loans up to Rs 10 lakhs against government guarantee. Only confirmed admission in a college would be needed to avail the loan.
  • Old age, handicapped and widow pensions to be increased from Rs 500 to Rs 2500.
  • The Aam Aadmi Party Punjab Government will give ‘Holy City’ status to Amritsar and Sri Anandpur Sahib.
  • Our government will make Punjab corruption-free by passing the Jan LokPal bill. Complete overhaul of governance and use of technology to eliminate corruption
  • Medical and life risk insurance cover has been provided to lawyers and their families and chambers in the courts for lawyers were set up
  • Aam Aadmi Canteens in all district and sub divisional towns where clean, wholesome meals will be available for Rs 5.
  • No AAP MLA, minister, MP or any other senior leader will use a vehicle with hooters and red beacon lights. VIP culture will be ended by cutting down personal security by 95%.
  • 1984 ANTI SIKH VIOLENCE VICTIMS: Victims’ families who have not been given financial assistance will be paid Rs 5 lakh.

CONGRESS PROMISES
Sidhu while addressing a public rally in Barnala announced that the Congress, if voted back to power in Punjab, would provide Rs 2,000 per month to women besides eight free LPG cylinders a year. He also announced to give Rs 5000, Rs 10,000, Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,000 to girl students who pass the fifth standard, middle, matriculation and plus-two.

Those going to college will also get a two-wheeler and those going abroad for higher education will get a tablet. He announced financial assistance of Rs 2 lakhs to women entrepreneurs besides a free of cost property transfer in their name.

Set up 28 skill development centres for women across the state. Generate home-based, kitchen-based business opportunities for women and provide interest free loans up to Rs 2,00,000 to them to run the business.

There will be a special provision for education loans up to Rs 2 lakh for women up to the stage of their PhD which they can avail from the government.

A selected group of women in every district will be trained and be provisioned in the Punjab Police and will be empowered to take charge of her life and represent other womenfolk.

SHIROMANI AKALI DAL PROMISES
Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, stated that the SAD-BSP alliance will restore Chandigarh to Punjab if voted to power in the upcoming state polls.

Shiromani Akali Dal has also announced to give Rs 2,000 per month to women holding blue cards.

PUNJAB DETAILS
The current tenure of Punjab Legislative Assembly is scheduled to end on March 27, 2022. This will be the 16th Assembly of the Punjab legislature.

Picture courtesy: Election Commission Of India

The full schedule for Punjab Assembly Elections 2022 is as follows:
* Date of issue of notification – January 21
* Last date for filing nomination – January 28
* Scrutiny of Nomination: January 29
* Last date of withdrawal of candidature: January 31
* Voting day in Punjab in single phase (phase 2)  – February 10
* Date of counting of votes – March 10, 2022

  • Previously, Punjab Assembly Elections were held on February 4, 2017.
  • In the 2017 Punjab Assembly polls, Congress won an absolute majority in the state by winning 77 (38.50% Voting Share) seats and ousted the SAD-BJP government after 10 years. Aam Aadmi Party emerged as the second-largest party winning 20 (23.72% Voting share) seats in the 117-member Punjab Legislative Assembly. BJP and SAD alliance Secured 20 seats (25.24% voting share), in which The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) could only manage to win 15 seats while the BJP secured 3 seats.
  • On March 17, Captain Amarinder Singh (75) took the Oath as the 26th Chief Minister of Punjab.
  • COVID PROTOCOLS     
  • New COVID-19 protocols announced for Punjab Assembly election 2022: Besides the poll schedule, fresh COVID-19 protocols were also announced to conduct the elections safely amid the rising number of cases across India.
  • No physical election rallies, roadshows yatras allowed in 5 states till January 15 due to the COVID situation
  •  Physical rallies during campaign, if allowed later, must
  • follow Covid-19 guidelines
  • Political parties and candidates advised to conduct their
  • election campaign in digital or virtual modes as much as possible
  • Polling time in all five states to be increased by one hour
  • No victory procession to be allowed post-results
  • All personnel on election duty will be doubly-vaccinated and
  • also eligible for precautionary third dose to ensure Covid-safe polls