The BJP has promised free COVID vaccination for the people of Bihar in its manifesto that was released by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Thursday. The promise is point number one of the 11 “sankalp” commitments) in the party manifesto for the Bihar election. Reacting sharply, the opposition said the promise of a vaccine in an “election manifesto” showed the BJP’s “desperation”.
With the Opposition raising the issue of unemployment in Bihar, and opposition chief ministerial candidate Tejashwi Yadav’s promise of ten lakh government jobs gaining traction in rallies, it is jobs that are the big focus in the BJP’s Sankalp Patra, with four of the eleven commitments promising to generate 19 lakh job opportunities across sectors like health, education, IT and farming.
The manifesto reads: “The NDA government in Bihar has set an example in the fight against novel coronavirus. It is our promise that that when a vaccine for COVID is available after clearance from ICMR, every Bihar resident will be given free vaccination.”
As soon as #COVID19 vaccine will be available for production at a mass scale, every person in Bihar will get free vaccination. This is the first promise mentioned in our poll manifesto: Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the launch of BJP Manifesto for #BiharPolls pic.twitter.com/x4VjVmkA3Q
— ANI (@ANI) October 22, 2020
About the free Covid vaccination, Sitharaman, who launched the manifesto, said, “After crossing all the stages, there are at least three vaccines that have reached the last stage and are on the cusp of production. After this if scientific people say this vaccine is fine, production can take place, our production capacity, because of the government’s intervention, is very large. So when the clearance comes from scientists, our vaccine production will be at such a level, that what we are promising, that in Bihar everyone will get a free vaccine. This is a promise in our sankalp patra. With responsibility we are assuring the people of Bihar,” Sitharaman said.”
RJD Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Jha , meanwhile, said, “I am shocked. In a welfare state, promising a vaccine for a pandemic, if it is a part of an election manifesto, it shows the level of deterioration in their thinking.”
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The BJP manifesto also promises the appointment of 3 lakh teachers in schools and higher institutions. In its campaigns, the Opposition has been criticising the state government over angry contractual teachers who have been demanding equal pay.
In the health sector, the manifesto says, “It is our commitment that 10,000 doctors, 50,000 paramedical staff, and in total one lakh people will get job opportunities in the health department. With this, the second AIIMS in Bihar in Darbhanga given by the Prime Minister will be operationalised by 2024.” It also says it will develop Bihar as the next generation IT hub that will generate 5 lakh jobs.
A large chunk of the 19 lakh job opportunities is supposed to come from the promise of developing farmer producer organisation supply chains. “The new 1000 Farmer Producer Organisation will be connected and through that special produce such as maize, fruit, makhana, paan, medicinal plants etc will have supply chains developed. This will generate 10 lakh job opportunities in the state,” the manifesto said.
Also in the farming sector, the BJP has promised acquiring pulses on MSP as well. “To save farmers from middlemen, our government has already done away with market committees. To further the cause of strong agriculture and a prosperous farmer we will now acquire pulses, apart from paddy and wheat at MSP,” it says.
Even as the NDA banks heavily on the votes of women voters, the lives of whom the Nitish Kumar government says it has improved with measures like prohibition, self-help groups, and 50 per cent reservation at the panchayat level, the BJP has promised a big micro financing push. “Through the NDA government 1.2 crore women have had light enter their lives from 10 lakh self help groups. It is our commitment that through these groups and microfinance institutions and 50000 crore micro finance, we will make 1 crore new women self dependent,” the manifesto says.
Other commitments made in the manifesto include the promise of medical, technical and engineering higher education in Hindi, a promise of a further 30 lakh pakka homes by 2022, and 15 new milk processing units encouraging cooperatives and private investment, and making Bihar the number one state in inland fisheries.
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