Chandigarh: Toeing Aam Aadmi Party national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's 'mantra' to woo the people in Punjab by announcing pre-poll sops of free and subsidised electricity, Congress leader and former state minister Navjot Sidhu on Sunday advocated for a 24-hour supply with no power cuts and free power up to 300 units.
"Punjab already provides Rs 9,000 crore subsidy but we must do more for domestic and industrial consumer giving power at Rs 3-5 per unit instead of surcharge inflated Rs 10-12 per unit, along 24-hour supply with no power cuts and free power (up to 300 units)," Sidhu said in a tweet, adding, "It is definitely achievable."
He further said: "Let us start with the Congress high command's pro-people 18-point agenda and get rid of the faulty un-negotiable Badal-signed Power Purchase Agreements through 'new legislation in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha' and fixing rates as per the national power exchange with no fixed charges!"
Sidhu's assertions on power outages in Punjab came days after AAP national convenor Kejriwal kicked off a campaign in the state by announcing free and subsidised electricity, his tested formula in Delhi.
Addressing a press conference in Chandigarh on June 29, Kejriwal offered free electricity up to 300 units and promised to waive off all the old electricity bills and arrears, if AAP forms the government in Punjab.
On Saturday, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said his government would be soon announcing its legal strategy to counter the "ill-conceived" power purchase agreements (PPAs) during the previous SAD-BJP regime.
In a series of tweets two days back, Sidhu had blamed the PPAs that the previous government had signed with three private thermal power plants and said "till 2020 Punjab has paid Rs 5,400 crore due to faulty clauses in these agreements. It is expected to pay Rs 65,000 crore of people's money just as fixed charges".
Favouring the need to set aside the PPAs, Sidhu had said the state can purchase power from the national grid at much cheaper rates. "But these Badal-signed PPAs are acting against Punjab's public interest. Punjab may not be able to re-negotiate these PPAs due to them having legal protection from honourable courts, But there is a way forward," he had said.
Facing severe electricity crisis, the Punjab government last week curtailed timings of the government offices, and cut down power supply to high energy consuming industries to save crops and ease the domestic power situation.
Sidhu had resigned from his post as a Punjab Cabinet Minister on July 14, 2019 after differences with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh over portfolio allocation. Sidhu was in-charge of local bodies but was shifted to the Power Department.
Party sources said a section of the Congress central leadership wants to suitably compensate Sidhu, who has been pushed to the sidelines, by making him as the state party chief.
However, a section of the Hindu legislators, owing allegiance to the Chief Minister, are not accepting Sidhu's induction. Their agreement is that the party cannot afford to have two Jat Sikh leaders in prominent roles -- one as a Chief Minister and another as state party chief.
Speculations in political circles are rife that Sidhu may join the AAP ahead of the 2022 Assembly elections.