Cong woos MP with Ram- Gau- Nar­mada

The Asian Age - - Front Page - RABINDRA NATH CHOUD­HURY

With sev­eral ref­er­ences to Lord Ram, Nar­mada river and cow, the Con­gress’ man­i­festo for Mad­hya Pradesh Assem­bly polls, re­leased on Satur­day, bears a dis­tinct saf­fron stamp in the state where it is seek­ing to un­seat the three- term BJP gov­ern­ment led by Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Try­ing to beat the BJP at it its game of Hin­dutva, the Con­gress has promised “gausha­las” or cow sheds in ev­ery pan­chayat, com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion of “gau mu­tra” ( cow urine) and “kanda” ( cow­dung cakes) as well as de­vel­op­ment of a re­li­gious tourism cir­cuit in Chi­trakoot that will re­trace the mytho­log­i­cal route tra­versed by Lord Ram dur­ing his ex­ile.

The 112- page poll man­i­festo, re­leased here on Satur­day, also promises a host of mea­sures for the con­ser­va­tion of the Nar­mada that is con­sid­ered

holy by Hin­dus.

Ti­tled “Vachan Pa­tra”, with 973 promises, the man­i­festo was re­leased at a press meet in the pres­ence of state Con­gress pres­i­dent Ka­mal Nath, state cam­paign com­mit­tee chief Jy­oti­ra­ditya Scin­dia and for­mer chief min­is­ter Digvi­jaya Singh. It promises to con­sti­tute a “Jan Ayog” or peo­ple’s

com­mis­sion to try cor­rup­tion cases of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan gov­ern­ment, be­sides declar­ing sops for farm­ers, un­em­ployed youths, women and jour­nal­ists.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, the Con­gress has also, in its man­i­festo, vowed to close down the Vya­pam or Pro­fes­sional Ex­am­i­na­tion Board ( PEB), which has of late gained in­famy due to charges of cor­rup­tion. The PEB con­ducts tests for re­cruit­ments of gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees and ad­mis­sions in dif­fer­ent pro­fes­sional ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions in the state.

Mr Nath de­scribed the man­i­festo “his­toric”.

“For the first time, we have re­leased a ‘ prom­ise man­i­festo’ in­stead of elec­tion man­i­festo,” he said, re­fer­ring to the new nomen­cla­ture used by the party for the doc­u­ment.

The man­i­festo, be­sides promis­ing to de­velop cow sheds in all the 23,600 pan­chay­ats, as­sured vot­ers that the party will de­velop re­li­gious tourism cir­cuit in Chi­trakoot, chris­tened as “Ram Ga­man Path”.

The 230- mem­ber Mad­hya Pradesh Assem­bly will go to polls on Novem­ber 28 and the re­sults will be an­nounced on De­cem­ber 11. The party said it would de­velop re­li­gious places along the river at a cost of ` 1,100 crore, be­sides en­act­ing the “Maa Nar­mada Nyas Ad­hiniyam” for its con­ser­va­tion.

The river has been at the cen­tre of pol­i­tics for a long time now, with the rul­ing BJP or­gan­is­ing a “Nar­mada Sewa Ya­tra” ear­lier and Con­gress leader Digvi­jaya Singh car­ry­ing out a 3,500- kilo­me­tre “parikrama” ( cir­cum­am­bu­la­tion) of the river.

The Con­gress also vowed to build roads along the banks of Nar­mada for the ben­e­fit of pil­grims.

Other poll promises made by the Con­gress in­clude waiv­ing off farm loans, pro­vi­sion of sub­sidised power for farm­ers, a monthly al­lowance of ` 10,000 to one un­em­ployed youth in each fam­ily, writ­ing off loans of wom­en­run self help groups ( SHGs), af­ford­able cook­ing gas and fuel, free lap top to mer­i­to­ri­ous stu­dents, a grant of ` 51,000 to each girl for their mar­riage, and a monthly pen­sion of ` 10,000 to each jour­nal­ist above 60 years of age.

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