Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday expressed concern over erosion of the state’s powers, leading to a weakening of Centre-state relations in the federal structure. Participating in a discussion, the Chief Minister made it clear that he had no problems working with the Centre, from whom it had been receiving full cooperation, but added that the state was facing some issues, particularly in matters of finance and key appointments.
Captain Amarinder said control had been taken away from the states and he did not have the power even to appoint his own DGP, but had to send a list of names to the UPSC. “Do they know better than us?” he asked, adding that his government was challenging the issue of DGP appointment in the Supreme Court. The states were not consulted in the matter of appointment of judges, Captain Amarinder further said, adding that while earlier the state used to send its recommendations, now it was being only given the names.
To a question on drugs, Captain Amarinder stressed the need for a national policy, which he said he had been pursuing with the Centre. Pakistan was pushing drugs through the borders to demolish the youth in the northern states, he said, pointing to the fact that drugs were being sent to Amritsar from Gujarat even though they could fetch better prices in Delhi and Mumbai. The motive was to demolish the youth and starve the Indian Army of manpower in the long run, he felt, pointing out that the Army had two-thirds of its strength coming from the northern belt. “If you don’t have healthy youth, where will you get jawans from?” he asked, adding that his government was going hammer and tongs to solve the drug problem.
On allegations of his government going soft on the Badals, he said one could not just catch anyone and put them behind bars. The Justice (Retd) Ranjit Singh Inquiry Commission had given its report and an SIT had been formed to get to the bottom of the sacrilege cases, he added. To another question, he said his government did not want to control the SGPC, but wanted the Badals out of it as they had made the religious body their fiefdom. On stubble burning, he said that though he did not like doing it, his government was imposing fines on farmers found indulging in the same. Every village in Punjab was plotted on satellite, he said, calling for an economic solution to the problem. He reiterated his demand for subsidy/compensation of Rs 100 per quintal from the Centre to incentivise farmers against stubble burning.