Updated: February 18, 2021 8:52:27 am
The Congress has promised “date destinations with coffee shops” as meeting places for “youth, students, couples and corporates”, apart from English medium schools for each zone and modern schools offering free education, in its manifesto for the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) elections due on February 21.
The Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) reacted to the manifesto saying it was an “influence of Italian culture” that has “offended the people of sanskaari nagri (cultural city) Vadodara”.
The manifesto, released on Tuesday, as part of the party’s “Iconic Vadodara” promise, says if voted to power, the Congress would develop party halls and other such ground facilities for women organising kitty parties.
It has also promised “ultra modern schools offering free education”, English medium schools in every zone, lowering the drop-out rate, and increased impetus to health facilities as well as lower property tax slabs and other civic amenity charges.
Vadodara Congress president Prashant Patel who released the manifesto, said, “The idea behind the promise is to give the weaker section of the society the space to unwind and relax. Those who can afford to go to cafes in the city have their options but what about those youth or persons from the underprivileged section?”
“When the party ran the ‘Hello Gujarat’ campaign, asking people to send their suggestions on what they would like the party to do, many youths mentioned how they couldn’t afford to go to cafes today. These cafes will be run by the civic body if we come into power. It will also help in generating employment apart from bridging the gap between sections of society… many couples who live in joint families have financial constraints and often cannot communicate or discuss private issues at home… They will get a space to spend time with each other at afforable prices… what is the harm in spreading happiness,” he added.
Patel said that the party has similarly offered halls and destinations for women to organise gatherings and kitty parties. About the BJP reaction, he said, “This is the BJP’s mindset. They never see women and underprivileged section as equals with the rest… If going to cafes is Italian culture, why are there coffee shops around at all? Only affordable cafes bring in Italian culture… What are they talking about in 2021? They should really come out of their regressive mindset and smell the coffee themselves.”
The BJP, which has not put out a manifesto for Vadodara so far, has called the promise to provide dating spaces “malicious”. Party general secretary of Vadodara unit, Sunil Solanki, said, “The Congress is known for making thoughtless comments during election times just to lure voters by hook or by crook…. But the voters and especially the youth… can tell right from wrong. Is dating a part of our culture? The Congress has no respect for the values of the Indian society.”
Gujarat BJP spokesperson, Yagnesh Dave, said in a release on Wednesday, “The Congress has shown that it is unwilling to come out of the influence of Italian culture. This action of the Congress has left the youth as well as corporates of the sanskaari nagri Vadodara extremely offended… Whenever people of the country need the Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to be among them, he quietly escapes to secret tours…”
Since 1995, the BJP is in power in the municipal corporation in Vadodara, the city from where then chief minister Narendra Modi fought his first Lok Sabha election and won, in 2014.
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