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Akali Manifesto Promises to Buy Land in US, Canada to Help Migrating Punjabis

Even by the tall list of campaign promises, this one should take the cake. Punjab’s ruling Shiromani Akali Dal has just promised that if voted back to power, the state government will buy vast tracts of land in US and Canada and resettle Punjabis who want to emigrate.

Jyoti Kamal | CNN-News18jyotik

Updated:January 25, 2017, 5:16 PM IST
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Akali Manifesto Promises to Buy Land in US, Canada to Help Migrating Punjabis
Punjab's ruling Shiromani Akali Dal on Tuesday released its poll manifesto.
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Ludhiana: Even by the tall list of campaign promises, this one should take the cake. Punjab's ruling Shiromani Akali Dal has just promised that if voted back to power, the state government will buy vast tracts of land in US and Canada and resettle Punjabis who want to emigrate.

According to the poll manifesto released by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal in Ludhiana on Wednesday, the Punjab government will buy one lakh acres in USA and Canada in addition to other countries to settle farmers abroad in professional farmer settlements.

"Apart from helping our farmers in pursuing agriculture in economic farms, this will also enable Punjabis to secure permanent resident status in those countries," says the manifesto.

However, the party didn't offer much clues as to how the plan will be carried out and who all will qualify for this programme.

Akali spokesperson Manjinder Singh Sirsa refused to comment when asked if the countries concerned wouldn’t look at the plan as state-sponsored migration.

"We are working on it. We will work out the details," he told News18.

Other promises include getting the state to pay down payments for Ola and Uber cabs besides Rs 2 lakhs to families of youth who quits drugs. Farm debts of all small farmers will also be waived off.

For the Akalis, coming back to power in a state they have ruled for 10 years is a challenge. Sukhbir Badal speaking to CNN News18 said he was surprised people did not understand and see the infrastructure development and the upliftment of standards that has taken place in the state. He said people should understand that he wants to rapidly develop Punjab and make it world class.

Not buying the argument are the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party that say Punjab is witnessing corruption of monumental proportions and that power has been centralised in the Badal family. They cite the examples of the state bus transport service which they claim has been systematically weakened to strengthen the Badal's own bus service. This, of course, is a claim that is vehemently denied by the Badals.

However, now that anti-incumbency is strong and the contest is not just with the traditional foe of Congress, but also with a new and aggressive entrant the Aam Aadmi Party, the stakes are high.

When asked if Punjab can afford these poll promises, Akali spokesperson Manjinder Singh Sirsa said there was a campaign to malign the state government and Punjab. He said Punjab is better than most states in India and can afford the promises made.

However, reports indicate that Punjab's debt has more than doubled under the SAD-BJP rule with the figure touching nearly Rs 1,17,353 crore in 2015 from the Rs 51,153 crore in 2007.

| Edited by: Sujit Nath
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