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Bihar polls: BJP banks on populism in its manifesto, but links it to merit

In Bihar, the BJP is back to good old populism. But careful about being called a copycat, the party is linking its best freebies to merit. The party’s manifesto, which is to be released on Thursday, will have sops for all sections of society, most importantly for the youth, women and farmers.

 Bihar polls: BJP banks on populism in its manifesto, but links it to merit

Representational image. AFP

If Nitish Kumar thought his government (part of it was in alliance with the BJP) was still attractive to young girls and their parents in the state, then he must watch out. The BJP is about to promise a vehicle of women empowerment, at least the symbol of it, in all areas - urban and rural. If it comes to power, the party will give 5000 Scootys to girls – over 100 in each district every year – on basis of the marks they score in class 12 or Inter examinations. The idea is that Scooty, more than anything else attracts girls from all sections of society. No political party or state government has so far promised it. As a popular catch line of an ad done by Priyanka Chopra says, “why should boys have all the fun?"

Narendra Modi’s idea of Beti Bachao and Beti Padhao takes a new turn. The BJP hopes it will gain maximum electoral mileage from it. Senior BJP leader Sushil Modi says that the Nitish government’s idea of cycles to girls could actually pay dividends for his party because he, as the then deputy chief minister and in-charge of finance ministry, made possible allocation of sufficient funds for distribution of cycles to girls.

If the meritorious girls are going to have fun with the Scooty, then boys need not be disappointed. The BJP is promising to distribute 50,000 laptops to meritorious Class 12 students who perform better in exams. The Samajwdi Party had been very successful with the free laptop idea to young students. The BJP has obviously taken a cue from it but its leaders are adding that it’s inspired by Narendra Modi’s Digital India thought. Meritorious students would include girls also.

Another first of its kind idea from the BJP is the interest-free loans to farmers if such loans are taken for agricultural purposes. The party is not promising any loan waiver but is going a step ahead of loans on lower or nominal rate of interests. The promise, interestingly coincides with PM Narendra Modi taking the initiative in renaming the Agriculture ministry as Agriculture and Farmer Welfare Ministry. Union Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh said his ministry had already dedicated certain number of staff and appointed a joint secretary rank officer to conceive and coordinate on welfare measures for farmers.

The state BJP has taken another cue from Narendra Modi’s successful power supply measures in Gujarat – 24 hours electricity supply in all parts of the state, all rural areas included by December 2016. Like Modi had done in Gurjarat, there would be two power feeder supply – one for domestic consumption and another for farming purposes.

The BJP is using the Gujarat model to the hilt and adding some innovative touches to make it appear fresh. It is suggesting if the party is elected to power Biharis in Bihar will have a gala good time.

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Updated Date: Oct 01, 2015 12:03:11 IST