Thrust on farmers, poor, youth in Cong manifesto
POLL PROMISES Announces to waive farmer loans up to ~2 lakh; land for the homeless BHOPAL:;
The Congress unveiled a please-all manifesto on Saturday, promising to waive loans of up to ~ 2 lakh owed by farmers, end corruption, build cow shelters and push ‘made in Madhya Pradesh’ goods as it seeks to end the 15-year rule of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state in next month’s assembly elections.
The party also promised to close down Vyapam, the state’s recruitment cum admission board that has been embroiled in a multi-crore scam that surfaced in July 2013 with revelations that undeserving candidates secured high ranks by either getting proxies to impersonate them in tests or through cheating by other means. The scam involved a clique of politicians and bureaucrats that facilitated the fraud in exchange for bribes, investigators have said.
State Congress president Kamal Nath positioned the 112page manifesto as a “Vachan Patra” (promises document) as againstthe“JumlaPatra” (false promises document) of the BJP. The manifesto promised a fair deal to all sections of society, be it farmers, women, students, the unemployed, tribals or Dalits.
“We will reduce the electricity bill of farmers by 50%, reduce diesel and petrol prices and open gaushalas (cow shelters) in every gram panchayat,” Nath said. Head of the state Congress campaign committee Jyotiraditya Scindia promised timebound implementation of all promises. Other senior leaders including head of Congress coordination committee Digvijaya Singh, leader of the opposition in the assembly Ajay Singh, and former state Congress president Arun Yadav were present at the manifesto’s unveiling .
The Congress is hoping to stage a comeback in the state that has been under the BJP rule since 2003 and where Shivraj Singh Chouhan has been chief minister since 2005. The BJP won a thumping majority in the 230-member state assembly in 2013. Elections to the Madhya Pradesh assembly will be held on November 28. Votes will be counted on December 11, together with those cast in elections in four other states -Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Mizoram and Telangana .
The Congress promised farmers, who have been the main focus of the principal contestants amid widespread farm distress,a bonus for almost all cereals, lentils and vegetables like onion, tomato and garlic produced by them, a bonus of ~5 per liter for milk and a new crop policy, apart from the loan waiver and subsidy in power tariffs.
For the poor, it promised an enhanced social security pension of ~1,000; and ~2.5 lakh and 450 sq feet of land for the homeless. Women would receive free education till Phd and ~51,000 for marriage.
Girls who secure 70% marks in the 12th board examination will be given a laptop. The party promised an unemployment benefit of ~4,000 per month for three years, and a wage subsidy of ~10,000 to those providing employment.
The manifesto was prepared by a team headed by senior Congress leader Rajendra Singh, who is also deputy speaker of the Assembly. The other members are MP Vivek Tankha, former MP Meenakshi Natarajan, former minister Narendra Nahata and Virendra Kumar Batham.
BJP national vice-president Prabhat Jha called the manifesto a “Jhoot Ka Pulinda” (A bag of lies). “Since they are not going to win, they can promise anything they want. Moreover, we are already implementing many of the promised schemes for farmers and women,” he said.
Retired head of political science from Sagar University G P Nema said finances could be a challenge in fulfilling the promises. “The real test would be in implementation as the state coffers are empty,” he said.
Congress leaders attend the release of manifesto for the upcoming Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections, at PCC headquarters in Bhopal, Saturday.
Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh (third from left), BJP president Amit Shah (fifth from left) and other party leaders release party manifesto for upcoming Assembly polls, in Raipur, Saturday.