Chandigarh, Apr 14: Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Wednesday promised to give the post of Punjab deputy chief minister to a Dalit if his party is voted to power in the Assembly polls next year.
Reacting to it, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh trashed the Sukhbir's statement as a poll gimmick by a party that failed to ensure the welfare of the community during its 10-year rule.
Sukhbir further said a university named after B R Ambedkar will be set up in the state's Doaba region, which has a large Dalit population concentrated in Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, and Kapurthala.
Dalits have a 33 percent share in Punjab's population.
"Once the SAD forms the government in Punjab, the deputy CM will be from the Dalit 'bhaichara'. We will also establish a university in Doaba in Babasaheb's name," said Sukhbir in Jalandhar on the 130th birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar.
He said his party is proud to follow the ideals of Ambedkar. "We are committed to working for the weak and downtrodden," the SAD chief said.
Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh described Sukhbir's statement as "nothing but poll optics".
The CM said the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and its former alliance partner BJP failed to ensure the welfare of the Dalits in the state during their 10-year rule.
"Sukhbir Badal is now promising a deputy chief minister but has nothing to show what he or his party in alliance with the BJP ever did for the community," said the CM in an official statement.
Amarinder also claimed of implementing all promises by his party in the last elections.
The CM promised that his government will spend at least 30 percent of funds under all government schemes for the welfare of the state's Scheduled Castes population.