The police on Saturday used water cannons to disperse the workers of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) who were protesting near Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s farmhouse near here against the statewide power outages.
Led by Punjab AAP chief Bhagwant Mann, thousands of party workers gathered and started marching towards the farmhouse in Siswan, raising slogans.
Facing severe electricity crisis, the Punjab government curtailed timings of government offices from Friday, besides cutting down on power supply to high energy consuming industries with immediate effect to save crops and ease the domestic power situation.
AAP MLA and Youth Wing state president Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer said the main cause for the high cost and shortage of power is the wrong power purchase agreements reached by the previous (Parkash Singh) Badal government with the private thermal plants, which were not cancelled by the present Congress government.
“Just like the Badals, the Amarinder Singh government is also taking bribes from the power companies,” he alleged.
The protest came days after AAP’s national convenor Arvind Kejriwal promised free electricity up to 300 units and round-the-clock power supply in Punjab if the party wins the Assembly elections slated early next year.
A day earlier, the Shiromani Akali Dal had held statewide protests before the offices of Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) to highlight the plight of the farmers, domestic consumers and industrialists, claiming that they are suffering because the Congress government has “deliberately” withheld the eight-hour free power supply to the farmers, besides imposing unscheduled power cuts in the urban areas.
Mocking his own government in the state over the power outages, Congress leader and former Cabinet minister Navjot Sidhu had said on Friday, “There is no need for power cuts in Punjab or for the Chief Minister to regulate office timings or AC use of the common people… If we act in the right direction.”
Sidhu, in a series of back-to-back tweets, said, “Punjab already gives Rs 9,000 crore power subsidy but Delhi gives only Rs 1,699 crore as power subsidy.
“If Punjab copies the Delhi model, we will get merely Rs 1,600-2,000 crore as subsidy. To better serve the people of Punjab — Punjab needs an original Punjab model, not a copied Model!!”