Farmers, women and cows are in focus in the manifestos of both the BJP and Congress in Chhattisgarh. To woo these constituencies, the major parties have various offers, from loan waiver to financial aid in the form of pension and interest-free loans.
The BJP and Congress are locked in a bitter battle in Chhattisgarh, where the former has been in power since 2003. The BJP manifesto, which promises to make Chhattisgarh a Maoist-free state and offers pension to small and marginal farmers as well as multi-specialty hospitals, was released a day after the Congress in its manifesto said it would waive farmers’ loans, ensure MSP for crops as per the Swaminathan Commission recommendations and ban sale of liquor.
BJP’s Sankalp Patra and Congress’s Jan Ghoshna Patra have several things in common — both talk about new MSP for paddy and maize, Rs 1,000 pension for farmers above 60 years old, linking farming with MNREGA, assurance on lucrative payment on land acquisition and special money packages for women self-help groups among other things.
Both the parties are also leaving no stone unturned when it comes to protection of cows and animals. The BJP has promised cow sanctuaries in every division, low-interest loans up to Rs 5 lakh for cow and dairy farmers, up to 60 per cent subsidy for milk processing units, veterinary hospitals with modern facility in every district, and reserved seats in government dairy colleges for children of traditional animal husbandry farmers. The Congress has promised cow sheds and shelters for stray cattle to protect crops. It has said it will set up cooperative dairy committees in every district on the Amul model, milk chilling plants in very district, and chilling vehicles.
In the wake of the farmers’ unrest in various parts of the country, the BJP has devoted a significant portion of its promises to the agriculture sector and farmers. They include better facilities in rural markets, including interlinking them under e-naam scheme, and better roads and accessibility for the market for farmers, interest-free loan up to Rs 20 lakh for packaging and preservation of fruits and vegetables, promotion of organic farming and setting up of institutional and private cowsheds for organic farming. Increased MSP for forest produce and a new mission to promote and market ‘mahua’ and ‘chironji’ are expected to attract tribals.
The Congress has promised increase in MSP on 50 forest crops and fixing Rs 4,000 per bag for Tendu Patta workers. While the BJP has promised to connect agriculture with MNREGA to reduce production cost, the Congress has promised that MNREGA would be linked with farming and animal husbandry to reduce agriculture production cost.
Another constituency that both major parties are trying hard to attract is women. The BJP proposes to increase the amount given to 18-year-old unmarried girls who have passed Class 12 to Rs 2 lakh. It also lists interest-free loans up to Rs 2 lakh to women for setting up business and of Rs 5 lakh to self-help groups and 50 per cent rebate for registering property in a woman’s name.
The Congress has promised Rs 500 a month to every mother, elevation of anganwadi workers to nursery teachers, GPS-connected ‘Tiranga Auto’ in cities at night, and installation of solar-powered street lights to curb crime against women. It has also promised girls’ polytechnic and ITIs in every district.