Uttar Pradesh Election 2017: Amit Shah launches BJP manifesto; revives Ram Mandir agenda

Reactivating its Ram Mandir bandwagon, the BJP on Saturday released its election manifesto promising to waive off loans of small and marginal farmers and distributing laptops to the youth amid assurances of working for the all-round development of Uttar Pradesh, ahead of the state polls.

Loaded with the promises of development and, to an extent, freebies, the Bharatiya Janata Party launched its manifesto for Uttar Pradesh Assembly Election. Hitting out at the consecutive rules of Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, BJP national president Amit Shah said that the state was relegated by a span of 15 years when it comes to development. He also said that the BJP, if elected to power, will make up for the losses of past 15 years in just five years.

File photo of BJP President Amit Shah. PTI

File photo of BJP President Amit Shah. PTI

"UP has been plundered by SP and BSP for 15 years; We have come with a pledge to transform the state," Shah said.

However, what drew the attention of the most was the return of the Ram Mandir agenda in the BJP manifesto. Saving the announcement for the end, Shah concluded his speech by pledging to work towards the construction of Ram Temple "under the provisions of the Constitution." He, however, declined to elaborate on the steps the BJP government would take in the direction.

The manifesto, called 'Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra' (Pledge for People's Welfare), also promises to press for taking forward its view on the triple talaq in the Supreme Court.

"The party is firm on the Ram temple issue...efforts will be made to ensure that Ram temple is constructed under the constitutional provisions," Shah said.

On the contentious issue of triple talaq, Shah said the party, on coming to power, will take views of women and present its opinion before the Supreme Court.

Shah also made some apparent references to the alleged Kairana 'exodus', without naming the issue or any particular community in his speech. However, he ensured to mention prominently in his speech, the steps the BJP will take to prevent the "migration of certain communities" in "Western Uttar Pradesh."

BJP's sitting MP from Kairana in Shamli District of Western UP, Hukum Singh had alleged that scores of Hindu families have been forced to migrate out of the city, by the local goons of another community. The issue was expected to be raked up to garner votes in the communally sensitive regions of Western Uttar Pradesh, which includes Shamli.

Shah, in his speech promised to hold the district collector responsible for any cases of forced migration and said that a special team consisting of police officers and the collector will be formed to look into the issue.

Meanwhile, he also maintained that all the developmental schemes promised in the BJP manifesto will be implemented without any differentiation on the basis of caste or religion.

In a battery of election promises, Shah promised a special focus on drought-hit Bundelkhand region of the state, that is seen as one of the most scantily developed area.

Releasing the manifesto in Lucknow, Shah said the Uttar Pradesh was left behind in the race for development.

"I appeal to the people to give us one opportunity and we promise to turn UP into a developed state," said Shah.

The party promised to create a fund of Rs 150 crore for agricultural development in the next five years.

Shah also sought to repackage some of the schemes existing in the state, introduced by the ruling  Samajwadi Party.

Taking a cue from SP, Shah promised to upgrade the Dial 100 of the state police to ensure police help in 15 minutes all over the state. Stressing that if voted to power, his party will take one
step ahead of the Samajwadi Party's laptop distribution scheme by providing 1 GB free data for one year besides free wi-fi in universities.

To ensure the safety of college girls, innovative anti- Romeo squads will be set up near colleges to check eve- teasing. Besides, three women battalions will be raised for security of women, the document said.

"Will distribute laptops to youth with 1 GB free internet if voted to power in UP," said Shah.

Seeking to hit out at it's opponents, Shah also invoked the phrase 'Bimaru,' coined in the 1980's to refer to India's least developed states. 'Bimaru' acronym for Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh, is phonetically similar to the Hindi word bimar, which means sick.

Shah said that the Bimaru states that elected a BJP governemnt in the past are now rid of the tag, while adding that the BJP will transform UP into a progressive state within just five years.

The BJP president blamed the Akhilesh Yadav-led SP government for impeding development schemes implemented by the Centre, while adding that only a BJP leadership at both helms can change UP.

He also took hard on the Congress-SP alliance stating that such strategies cannot fool the voters and Akhilesh will remain answerable for the law and order situation, which he claimed was at its nadir.

"Akhilesh Yadav will have to answer for problems faced by the state where the "ruling party goondas have grabbed land"; merely entering into alliance will not hoodwink people," Shah said.

Shah promised a slew of measures to woo farmers. Apart from promising a complete loan waiver for small farmers, Shah claimed that the BJP governemnt will ensure zero interest loans for small farmers and labourers in the informal sector.

He promised to clear pending payments of sugarcane farmers, while adding that the BJP is elected to power will ensure that the sugar mills hand out a post dated check right at the time of delivery.

On the front of law and order also, the party made tall claims. BJP promised to crack down on corruption as well. Its manifesto entails the creation of special task forces to weed out mining mafias, land mafias, and all other organised crime nexuses. Shah even vowed to immediately fill all empty posts in the police force.

In the field of education, apart from promising a "world class" Sanskrit university named after Madan Mohan Malviya, the BJP reiterated promises of scholarships and aides for meritorious students from economically weaker section of the society.

The manifesto promised free education up to Class 12 and waiver of fees up to graduation level to meritorious students.

Before unveiling the document, Shah said, "We have tried to take views and aspirations of a cross section of people and in the process contacted people through different means (before drafting the manifesto)."

BJP is going hammer and tongs to return to power in UP after 15 years. In 2012, it had won only 47 of the state's 403 seats, but in the 2014 national election, it swept 71 of the state's 80 Lok Sabha seats and hopes to repeat that performance in this year's assembly election. Elections in Uttar Pradesh will be held in seven phases from 11 February to 8 March.


Updated Date: Jan 29, 2017 11:54 AM

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