Other States

Punjab parties criticise Centre’s move to withhold rural fund

Political parties in Punjab — the Congress, the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Aam Aadmi Party — have hit out at the BJP-led Central government for its decision to withhold the State’s Rural Development Fund (RDF).

While the ruling Congress termed the decision ‘unfortunate’, AAP described it as a revengeful act on the part of the Centre. The Shiromani Akali Dal accused it of resorting to ‘victimisation’ of farmers.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday urged the Centre to review the decision as the move would badly impact rural development works in the State as he termed the move ‘unfortunate’.

The Chief Minister said there was no precedent not to release the RDF that was due to the State during scrutiny of utilisation of previous funds.

He said the State government will submit all utilisation details as sought by the Centre, as it had done in the past too. “While this was not the first time the Government of India had gone for a scrutiny of utilisation of funds, this was, however, a first as far as non-release of RDF was concerned,” he said, expressing serious concern over the development.

The Chief Minister said doubts were being raised in several quarters about the timing of the Union Cabinet’s decision not to release RDF funds to the tune of more than ₹1,000 crore at the present juncture, amid the controversy over Centre’s farm laws.

“The timing is suspect and points to dubious motivation behind the move,” he said, urging the Centre to immediately reconsider and give the State’s dues against RDF while the scrutiny continues, as has been the case in the past.

Leader of the Opposition and AAP MLA Harpal Cheema said, “The move is an assault on the federal structure of the country and an attempt to implement the black laws on agriculture, which AAP vehemently opposes.”

‘White paper’ sought

Mr. Cheema demanded that the Chief Minister immediately issue a “white paper” not only on the RDF used during his own tenure but also the previous SAD-BJP government’s tenure.

Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal accused the Union government of resorting to victimisation of farmers and said that with the Centre not making any provision for RDF in the cash credit limit, it would adversely affect the food grain procurement system in Punjab.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 1:30:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/punjab-parties-criticise-centres-move-to-withhold-rural-fund/article32976893.ece

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