By Abhishek Jha:
The Aam Admi Party, which won 4 out of the 13 parliamentary seats in Punjab in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, has come out with a youth manifesto for the state ahead of the Assembly election due in 2017. It was prepared by the AAP’s Punjab Dialogue Committee according to reports and was released in Amritsar on July 3 by AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Kejriwal is on a three day tour of the state.
The 51 point manifesto is divided into 4 parts – employment, anti-drugs campaign, education and sports. Under the ‘Employment’ section, the party has promised to end corruption by passing the Jan Lokpal Bill and giving more autonomy to the enforcement wing of the government. This, the manifesto says, will make the state more investment-friendly. The manifesto also promises the creation of 25 lakh jobs and employment opportunities over the course of five years, promotion of entrepreneurship, and skill development.
The party has also promised to scrap fees for application to government jobs and to reduce the probation period for government jobs to two years. The manifest also says that Wi-Fi hotspots will be created in all villages, cities, and government colleges. The party had made promises for free Wi-Fi hotspots before the Delhi Assembly elections too. In February this year, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had said that the implementation of the project was in process but that it was difficult to announce a time-frame for the same.
Under the ‘Anti-Drugs Campaign’ head, the manifesto says that the drug supply chain in the state will be cut off within one month of the formation of the government. It also promises the formation of a special Drug Task Force within Punjab Police at both state and district levels.
Amid reports of death of addicts in police custody due to lack of rehabilitation facilities, the manifesto says that the party, if voted to power, will guarantee admission in government educational or sports institutions for those having undergone treatment. It also vows to cap fees of private de-addiction centres. The party has also promised to withdraw false and politically motivated NDPS (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act) cases. These promised measures are aimed at ending, what has been called, a skewed war on drugs in the state, which targets addicts instead of the suppliers.
Free laptops on admission to the Class 9, filling of vacant posts of school teachers, CCTV cameras in government schools are offered under ‘School Education’. Depoliticised appointments of VCs, Professors, and Lecturers – an issue being raised at the national level by students – has found a place in the manifesto. Three new medical colleges, two Rural Institutes of Higher Learning, two degree colleges in Barnala and Pathankot, one Hospitality and Hotel Management College, and one institute for Film and Media in Mohali is promised.
Scholarship for female students, audit of private education institutions, buildings “friendly towards ‘differently-abled children'”, modernisation of syllabi, higher education loans, residential hostels, etc, are some other promises made by the party under ‘Higher Education’.
Aimed again at stopping the youth from becoming drug-addicts, the party promises to establish a sports university and three sports colleges. The manifesto also says that higher prize money will be offered for medal winners and an increment in the budget for sports.
The manifesto has been, since its release, criticised by former Congress Chief Minister and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee President Amarinder Singh of being a copy of the ideas of Congress. The National Student Union of India (NSUI), the student wing of Congress, has also called the manifesto mere eyewash.