Madhya Pradesh election: Congress tries to please all in its manifesto; sops galore for farmers, upper castes and youth

The Madhya Pradesh Congress launched its manifesto for the upcoming Assembly elections on 10 November. In the document, which the Congress has described as "historic", the party has tried to please all, with promises ranging from employment to gaushalas.

Representational image. News18

Representational image. News18

Releasing the 112-page manifesto at a press meet in Bhopal, state Congress chief Kamal Nath described it as the "voice of the people of Madhya Pradesh", saying the document was prepared after consultations with every section of the society. Titled "Vachan Patra", it was released in the presence of state campaign committee chief Jyotiraditya Scindia and former chief minister Digvijaya Singh. Taking potshots at the BJP, Scindia said the Congress's manifesto was not like the saffron outfit's "jumla patra" (document of rhetoric) as the party would honour every promise made in the document. "We are bringing a vachan patra and not a jumla patra like the BJP. Our document of promises has something for everybody," the former Union minister said.

Here's a look at what the grand old party has promised the voters of Madhya Pradesh for the coming five years if it is elected to power:

1. It has promised to write off farm loans of up to Rs 2 lakh and provide a "salary grant" for five years to industries offering jobs to the youth.

2. The party has promised a social security pension to the farmers and a rebate in the registration fee of land documents, besides a financial help of Rs 51,000 for the marriage of daughters of small cultivators. It has also promised a minimum support price (MSP) for crops in accordance with the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations, along with a promise of providing social security pension of Rs 1,000 per month to farmers who attain the age of 60 and whose land holding is below 2.5 acres. Besides this, a provision for an amount of Rs 2.50 lakh for the construction of houses of landless people on a plot of 450 square feet has also been mentioned in the manifesto.

3. Other sops promised to farmers include a 50 percent subsidy on loans for agriculture equipment, halving the power bill rates for them, a bonus on the MSP of around 17 crops or agricultural commodities and a subsidy of Rs 5 per litre on milk procurement. The manifesto also promises a rebate in diesel and petrol prices. A subsidy of Rs 100 on gas cylinders to poor families and free education to girls up to the post-graduation level were also promised by the party.

4. The Opposition party has also promised a re-investigation into the Mandsaur police firing incident, in which six farmers were killed in June 2017.

5. It proposes to bring a law to give housing rights to the people, as well as 35 kilograms of wheat and rice at Re 1/kg to the poor. It has also proposed to set up a 'Vidhan Parishad' or the legislative council in a bicameral system.

6. The Congress has also promised a "salary grant" of Rs 10,000 per job to the industries offering employment to the youth of the state. Professionals like tourist guides and lawyers would be provided an "encouragement fee" of Rs 4,000 per month for five years for settling down in their respective professions. Those covered under the existing social security pension scheme would get Rs 1,000 per month, instead of Rs 300 now.

7. Besides, the Congress has promised regularisation of daily wagers, 30 percent government contracts to tribals, setting up of a Senior Citizen Board, a law to protect journalists and lawyers, honorarium to journalists above 60 years of age, telemedicine facility in rural areas and four new medical colleges.

8. The Congress has also promised a rebate in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and subsidised loans for setting up industries with an investment of at least Rs 100 crore.

9. It has promised the constitution of a Yuva Aayog (Commission for the Youth) to look into the problems of young men and women.

10. In a bid to appease members of the general category, which has been agitating over perceived injustice to them, the Opposition party has promised the constitution of a Samanya Varg Ayog (General Category Commission) to look into their issues.
The state had recently seen a series of protests by people from the unreserved (general) category communities.

11. A Jan Aayog (People's Commission) would be constituted for investigations into scams like Vyapam. A "jan jababdeh kanoon (public accountability law) would be enacted to hold the government departments responsible for providing public amenities, Kamal Nath announced on Saturday. The party has thus promised to disband the Vyapam and replace it with a "Rajya Karmachari Chayan Aayog" to ensure transparent recruitments and a corruption-free system. It will also refund the examination fees of the lakhs of youth who had appeared for the recruitment tests conducted by the board in the last 10 years.

12. The party has promised laptops for Class XII students obtaining over 70 percent marks and subsidised two-wheeler loans for female college students.

13. The Congress' manifesto also promises a host of measures for the conservation of the Narmada river. The party said it would develop religious places along the river at a cost of Rs 1,100 crore, besides enacting the "Maa Narmada Nyas Adhiniyam" for its conservation. The river has been at the centre of the state's politics for a long time now, with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party organising a "Narmada Sewa Yatra" earlier and senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh carrying out a 3,500-kilometre 'parikrama' (circumambulation) of the river by foot.

14. In a bid to reach out to the majority community, the 112-page manifesto promises an "adhyatmik vibhag" (spiritual department) in the state, as well as plans to promote the Sanskrit language. It speaks of developing the "Ram path" — a mythical route taken by Lord Ram during his 14-year exile — which will be will be built from Chitrakoot within the state boundary and the commercial production of 'gaumutra' (cow urine) and 'kanda' (cowdung cakes). The document also talks of setting up 'gaushalas' (cow shelters) in every village panchayat and making arrangements to set up temporary camps on main roads to provide for treatment to injured cows and last rites of dead cows besides a commitment to make available grazing land for cattle.

15. Referring to Tapti, Mandakini and Kshipra rivers as “mother”, the manifesto promises to form trusts for these sacred rivers, besides a law to declare as living entities all holy rivers mentioned in the scriptures. The Congress also promised new rules for freeing temples of encroachment and adding names of priests and mahants to properties of maths and temples. Referring to the guru-shishya parampara, the manifesto also promises rules for hereditary succession in mutts and temples.

16. The main Opposition party has also stated that it would set up a board and enact a policy for the welfare of transgenders.

In a direct attack on the ideology of the BJP-RSS combine, the Congress has also announced that if it is given the opportunity to form a government in the state, it won't allow RSS shakhas to run in government buildings. The BJP has since hit out at the grand old party, saying that its position appears to be "not allowing the Ram Temple to be built, and not allowing shakhas to be run."

The results of the single-phase Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections will be announced on 11 December.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Nov 17, 2018 13:41:34 IST

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