Cong woos MP with Ram- Gau- Narmada
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.