The Punjab Congress took six months of rigorous planning to prepare its manifesto for the 2017 assembly elections. However, when it came to the sports section, they copy pasted the BJP-led Haryana’s policy.
Unaware of the existing cash reward scheme for medallists in Punjab, the Congress picked up the figures from Haryana government’s policy. In the manifesto released in New Delhi by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday, the copied scheme was reproduced.
Around the same time, Congress leader Manpreet Singh Badal released the manifesto in Chandigarh. Badal highlighted the major takeaways from the manifesto as he categorically said that his party, if elected, will increase the cash reward for Olympic gold medallists from Rs 5 crore to Rs 6 crore and, for Asian Games gold medallists, from Rs 2 crore to Rs 3 crore. Now, the existing cash reward in Punjab is Rs 2.25 crore for the Olympic gold medallists while its only Rs 26 lakh for the Asian Games gold medallists.
It should also be noted that while there is no provision of incentives for national and international tournaments, including Olympics, Asian Games, and Commonwealth Games, the Haryana government does give such incentives. Nonetheless, the Congress manifesto further went on to say that the cash awards for participation will also be increased, if elected.
According to a report in the Hindustan Times, Manpreet Badal said, “We have discussed the issue with former sportspersons and included the figures in our manifesto. The comparison has been made with the state’s policy.”
On being pointed out that the figures have been directly taken from Haryana’s Sports policy and also don’t affirm with the existing state policy, he said, “We want our incentives to be better than Haryana, as many of Punjab players are leaving the state because of the lesser cash awards. That’s why we have compared it (cash awards) with the Haryana.”
When it was brought to his notice that Punjab’s award money was way lesser than Haryana’s award money, Badal said, “Right now, I cannot recall all the points in the manifesto. For this, I have to go through the manifesto and only then I can comment.”
Badal’s diplomatic stance only fuels the controversies. Perhaps, it would have been better if they had not copy-pasted BJP’s policy.