“The Chief Minister makes a fair point that since he was put in the saddle three months back, why shouldn’t he be the face of the party for the 2022 elections?” Tewari told The Indian Express.
Earlier in the day, Tewari, the MP from Anandpur Sahib in Punjab, had put out a tweet referring to The Indian Express‘s report on Channi’s statement. “Punjab requires a CM who has solutions to Punjab’s challenges, capacity to take tough decisions. Punjab NEEDS serious people whose politics is NOT Social Engineering, Entertainment, Freebies & NOT regime favourites rejected by people in successive elections,” read the tweet, which was interpreted as a jibe at Channi.
Punjab requires a CM who has solutions to Punjab’s challenges, capacity to take tough decisions.
Punjab NEEDS serious people whose politics is NOT Social Engineering, Entertainment,Freebies & NOT regime favourites rejected by people in successive electionshttps://t.co/sD2ni6ppuN
— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) January 12, 2022
Tewari, however, said the tweet is not “individual specific”. He said it is a reflection of his anguish that the real issues which are confronting the state are missing from the campaign.
Elaborating, he said, “I am of the firm view that there are substantive issues which concern the future of Punjab which are completely and absolutely missing from the politics of the state. For example, Punjab is the most indebted state in the country. We have a debt of Rs 3 lakh crore. There is absolutely no discussion as to how Punjab’s debt, which is 55 per cent of the GSDP, is going to be addressed.”
Secondly, “84 per cent of Punjab has less than 5 acres. Under those circumstances, agriculture as an occupation is completely unviable. That is why you saw such a huge farmers’ protest for one year primarily because the farmers thought that their social safety net was being removed,” he said.
Punjab, he said, is an agrarian state but the water table has been going down at the rate of 1 meter per year for the last three decades. “So today, 19 out of the 22 districts of Punjab are in the black in so far as their ground water levels are concerned. And we still continue with the old agricultural practices of puddling in the case of paddy and the wheat and rice cycle.”
The other big question, he said, is “how does Punjab harvest the fourth industrial revolution..the automation, artificial intelligence, the robotics in order to build a future for the children of the state.”
“These are the issues but rather than that, you only see populism and freebies and a competition between different political parties on who can throw more sops at the people…I don’t think that is how a state which has almost three-fourths of its population which is connected to the diaspora… like Kerala is… I don’t those are the issues on which people make their electoral choices… who is going to give them Rs 500 more or who is going to give them Rs 500 less. The future of Punjab requires visionary leadership, a leadership which is capable of taking hard decisions and which can tell the people that Punjab is up a creek without a paddle and we need to balance our budgets.”
He said the tweet was about the graver challenges that the state is facing.
The Congress has so far not reacted to Channi’s remarks.
“When the party declared its CM candidate during the 2017 elections, it won. Before that, when it did not declare the candidate, it lost. Whenever the party has not announced the CM candidate, it has lost. So the party should announce it,” the Chief Minister said yesterday.