The common minimum programme (CMP) worked out between the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress talks about immediate loan waiver to Maharashtra’s farmers; a new law to ensure 80 per cent reservation in jobs for locals; Re 1 heath clinics in all talukas; and a Rs 10 thali to provide affordable food to people.
The preamble to the four-page document, signed by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, NCP state president Jayant Patil and Congress state president Balasaheb Thorat, states: “The alliance partners commit to uphold the secular values enshrined in the Constitution. On contentious issue of national importance as well as of state importance especially having repercussions/consequences on the secular fabric of the nation, the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress will take a joint view after holding consultations and arriving at a consensus.”
In CMP, a balancing act
The CMP, seen as a working solution to bring three ideologically divergent parties on a single platform, was announced in a joint meeting by Patil, Thorat and Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde. Thorat arrived 45 minutes late for the announcement, with other leaders saying there was a miscommunication about the timing of the press conference.
The CMP promises “immediate assistance to farmers suffering due to premature rains and floods” in the form of an immediate loan waiver. Unseasonal rain in early November had damaged standing crop on 93.89 lakh hectares of land, with 1.04 crore farmers suffering losses.
The CMP also talks about revising the crop insurance scheme to ensure immediate compensation to farmers; remunerative prices for farm produce; and construction of a sustainable water supply system for drought-hit areas. “The well-being of the state’s farmer will remain this government’s priority,” Shinde said.
On job creation, the CMP talks about filling all vacant posts in the state government and creating a fellowship for educated unemployed youth. It also states that a law shall be enacted to ensure 80 per cent reservation in jobs for local youth.
In 2008, the Congress-NCP government had issued a government resolution for job quotas for locals. The resolution had mentioned that all industries that take concessions and incentives from the state should employ at least 50% of locals in supervisory roles, and 80% in non-supervisory roles. The definition of local here is a person who is domiciled in Maharashtra, having lived in the state for over 15 years. The implementation of the previous law, however, was deemed too lax.
The CMP also emphasises on free college education for girls from economically weaker sections, and states that children of farm labourers and students from the EWS community shall receive education loan at zero interest rate. For urban centres, the CMP promises to improve roads through a scheme along the lines of the Chief Minister Gram Sadak Yojana. It also promises to provide slum dwellers eligible under the Slum Rehabilitation Programme tenements of 500 square feet carpet area free of cost, instead of the 300 square feet tenements being provided at the moment. Rahul Gandhi had made the same promise in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls. The move is expected to benefit 11 lakh slum dwellers in Mumbai.
The three parties also hope to provide health insurance cover to every citizen of the state.
On minorities, the CMP talks about adopting schemes to eliminate social, educational and economic backwardness of the minority community. Asked about what would happen to the promise of Muslim reservation, NCP’s Jayant Patil said: “Things will happen at the opportune time.” In 2014, the Congress-NCP government had provided for a 5% reservation to Muslims in jobs and education, which was scrapped by the subsequent BJP government in which the Sena was an alliance partner.
On secularism featuring prominently in the CMP’s preamble, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said the three parties wanted to work for all sections of society. “We want to work for the development of people. For us, secularism means that a Hindu is free to practice his faith and a Muslim his. We will be teaching those who have forgotten what secularism means.”
On trees being cut in Aarey to make way for a Metro car shed, NCP’s Patil said: “We are against anything that hurts the environment and affects the well-being of residents of Mumbai. We three are against the way the trees were cut. As far as the project goes, once we take over, we will look at the possible alternatives and then take a decision.”
The coalition also announced two committees — one for coordination within the state cabinet, and the other for coordination among the three partners.