After confronting Naxalism for 13 years,the Chhattisgarh polity has finally included the issue in its political programme as the Congress spelt out a strategy to tackle the Red movement in its election manifesto released Monday. Restoration of trust and security operations only when they are necessary,the party emphasised,are keys to resolve the crisis. For this,gaining the trust of Scheduled Tribes will be given priority, the document said. After two elections in 2003 and 2008,this is the first instance insurgency has found its way in a poll manifesto.
Released by AICC treasurer and chief of Congress election campaign committee Motilal Vora in Raipur,the manifesto noted that the extremists who join the mainstream will be treated with complete sympathy,and officers posted in the Naxal-hit regions will be transferred to normal zones as per their desire. Jeeram Ghati,the spot where Maoists launched their biggest attack on a political convoy and killed several prominent Congress leaders,will be developed as a martyr memorial. The party also promised to rehabilitate tribals displaced either from home or the state due to Maoist violence or violence in its retaliation. By focusing on the trust and governance deficit,the manifesto only carries forward the strategy of slain PCC chief Nand Kumar Patel.
Going ahead of the state governments populist subsidised rice scheme,the party promised that except tax payees,all BPL and APL families in the state will be given 35kg free rice. At present,Antyodaya families get 35kg rice at Rs 1 per kg and priority households get the same quantity at Rs 2 per kg. Promising a slew of measures to woo farmers and tribals,the party claimed if voted to power it would procure paddy from farmers at Rs 2,000 per quintal,and of this Rs 500 will be directly transferred to a woman of the farmers family.
To address dissidence arising out of many cases of fraudulent transfer of farmland during CM Raman Singhs tenure,the party promised to institute a probe commission in all cases of land acquisition and land snatching in the last 10 years. The party promised to waive-off short-term loans of farmers and water tax of marginal and small farmers.
Other significant measures include the establishment of the Legislative Council in the Assembly and increase in reservation for the SCs in government jobs from 12 per cent to 16 per cent.
To woo students and youths,the party said that its government will incur fees of all girl students and deposit it directly in colleges and there will be no application charges for competitive exams. Girls college and hostel will be instituted in every district. The party also promised that student union polls in all colleges will now be held by EVM.
Besides,the party also promised to increase unemployment and disability allowance and create a Rs 500 crore fund for women development. There will be medical colleges in each division and air ambulance will be used for remote tribal areas,while base camps for air ambulances will be developed in Surguja and Bastar. The party promised to set up an academy to preserve Gondi and other tribal languages and dialects,provide them national and international significance and to set a Chhattisgarh help centre in Delhi.
Commenting on the manifesto,BJP spokesperson Sachhidanand Upasne said: Congress makes great promises and raises attractive slogans,but never meets them. They are in the Centre for long,why did not they do anything for SC/STs.