Puducherry polls 2021: As Congress, BJP seek to keep Dravidian parties at bay, manifestos promise free mobile data, education
A look at the manifestos of the BJP and Congress gives a glimpse of how they are trying to convey their agendas to voters
In the upcoming Puducherry Assembly polls, a key factor to watch out for will be the prospects of the two biggest national parties — the BJP and Congress.
While the saffron party is hoping to make inroads into largely uncharted territory, the grand old party will seek to buck its trend of ceding space to regional players at the state level.
It is important to note that in Puducherry, regional parties DMK and AIADMK do not overwhelmingly dominate politics, unlike neighbouring Tamil Nadu. An indication of this can be seen in seat-sharing agreements. In Tamil Nadu, the two parties are both set to contest over 170 seats in the 234-member Assembly. On the other hand, in Puducherry, the DMK will contest 13 out of 30 seats. The AIADMK was allotted only four seats by alliance partners AINRC and BJP, although the party is resisting this.
In this contest, a look at the Congress and BJP's manifestos gives a glimpse of how they are trying to convey their agendas to voters.
Free COVID-19 vaccination for all; scrapping of NEET and the new education policy; Rs 1,000 as assistance for homemakers; re-opening of mills are some of the promises made by the Congress party in its poll manifesto.
The Congress' manifesto also appears to reflect the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant need for online learning. As noted by The Hindu, it promises 60 GB data free for higher secondary and college students, laptops for students of standards 10, 12 and college students and free bus pass and Wi-Fi facility for rural students.
Steps would be taken to scrap NEET mode for medical admission, and the new education policy, the manifesto said.
Earlier, former Puducherry chief minister V Narayanasamy had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to drop the NEET-based selection of the students. He said NEET, designed on the basis of the CBSE syllabus, would be tough to crack as students in Puducherry have been following a state board syllabus.
Narayanasamy had also said that the system of selecting students for professional courses by the Puducherry government through centralised admission committee (CENTAC) on the basis of marks obtained in the Plus-two public examination was helpful and did not cause any hardship.
The Congress has in its manifesto also sought to address concerns about unemployment, which has been worsened during the coronavirus-induced lockdown. Steps would be taken to re-open the government-owned AFT Mill, Swadeshi Cotton Mills and Sri Bharathi Mills which were closed by the NDA government at the Centre, it said. Similarly, the Cooperative Sugar Mill at Lingareddipalayam would be re-opened, it said.
The BJP would fancy its chances in the upcoming polls in Puducherry, with a pre-poll survey by Asianet News Network-C Fore predicting that the party, in alliance with the AIADMK and AINRC will sweep the election.
The saffron party, in its manifesto, has promised free education for girls from kindergarten to higher education, 50 per cent quota for women in local bodies, re-opening of textile mills and setting up of textile parks.
Some other proposals were: a 150-foot tall statue of Tamil poet Subramanian Bharathi, holding of world investors meet to attract investments for industrial development, steps to ameliorate the lot of poor fishermen, and development of ports and augmenting infrastructure.
The BJP has alleged that Narayanasamy-led government did not allow Central schemes to be executed well in the state. In an interview to The Times of India, Union minister Arjun Ram Meghwal alleged that the Union Territory's government was reluctant to implement the Centre-sponsored PM Awas Yojana (PMAY). In the interview, Meghwal alleged, "Narayanasamy feared that the Central schemes, if implemented effectively, would make Prime Minister Narendra Modi more popular."
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while releasing the BJP's manifesto for Puducherry, said that all the schemes that had not seen the light of the day all these years would be implemented with full speed if the BJP formed the government.
She also said the fishermen in the coastal belt would be relieved of their hardships and during lean periods, and a comprehensive welfare programme would be adopted for the betterment of fishermen.
Puducherry will vote in a single-phase election on 6 April while counting of votes will take place on 2 May.
The Puducherry Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) has a total number of 30 seats, of which five are reserved for the Scheduled Castes.
With inputs from PTI
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