Agartala, March 13: In a clever move to put the Opposition Congress on the mat, Tripura finance minister Badal Chowdhury has decided to take up with Union finance minister P. Chidambaram the issue of state Congress’s populist manifesto and press for its implementation.
“Chidambaram addressed a poll rally here two days before the Assembly elections on February 12 in Kamalpur and endorsed the manifesto released by his party before the polls asserting that the commitments made in it had the sanction of Union finance ministry and his party high command. The Congress has not been able to win the elections, but Chidambaram should fulfil his commitment which he had given holding his party’s manifesto,” Chowdhury said.
He was talking to the media in his official chamber last night at the state secretariat. Chowdhury said during his next visit to New Delhi, he would meet Chidambaram and press for implementation of the commitments made in the manifesto.
“The Congress had promised rice at Re 1 a kg for the BPL-category people and 7kg of rice free of cost every month for the poorest of the poor from ration shops. The manifesto also promised central payscale for state government employees and dole for unemployed youths. All these and other promises had been endorsed by Chidambaram and Rahul Gandhi. Now these should be implemented,” Chowdhury said.
He announced that very shortly the state government would recruit 37 officers for the state excise department through examinations to be conducted by the Tripura Public Service Commission.
“We will also recruit more people for other departments as well, but that will not solve the problems of unemployed youths who number more than six lakh now. Government employment is need-based, we cannot go beyond a certain limit at a time when the Centre has been pushing us to stop fresh recruitments by abolishing posts,” Chowdhury said.
He said the Left Front government would not follow the path of the Centre whose policies are “anti-people”.
“I would like to refer only to the system of contributory pension and giving charge of handling pension funds to a consortium of industrialists. We simply will not implement this,” the minister said.
He said because of financial constraints, the state government could not grant “grade pay” to its employees by bringing parity with central government employees on DA payment.
“Our financial position has now improved with additional resource mobilisation and we are also hoping for higher allocations from the upcoming 14th Finance Commission. Some of the important demands of the employees are being considered for fulfilment. We may not be able to bring DA payment on a par with the Centre but the gap will be reduced as much as possible,” Chowdhury said.
He attributed the victory of the Left Front in the just-concluded Assembly elections to “sterling performance of the Left Front government” and “solid organisational position”.
“The Congress in Tripura lack credibility and people here have a fear of instability and misgovernance during Congress rule. That is why they suffered this debacle,” the minister said.