Seeking to return to power for the fourth consecutive time in Madhya Pradesh, the BJP on Saturday released its manifesto by focusing on farmers, promising to create 10 lakh jobs every year and also trying to get the caste equation right by promising to ensure impartial probe in cases under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and offering free education to the economically backward students of general categories and other backward classes.
The 72-page document titled Vision Document for Prosperous Madhya Pradesh has a proposal named Laghu Kisan Swawlamban Yojana that promises bonus for small and marginal farmers who don’t produce enough to sell at mandis and are deprived of benefits under schemes like the price deficiency scheme received by other farmers. Lakhs of farmers, who own land less than five acres, will get bonus proportionate to their land holding and average estimated yield. Farmers had taken to the streets in 2017 to protest falling prices leading to death of five protesters in police firing and one in police custody near Mandsaur. The manifesto promises to increase annual crop loan given by cooperative organisations to Rs 40,000 crore and to take to 12,000 the number of primary agriculture cooperative societies to provide loans to small and marginal farmers. It promises to ensure cent percent purchase of pulses through procurement and other means and to scale up the price stabilisation fund.
Also on the anvil is an agency to monitor global production and to identify possible foreign markets and help farmers meet phytosanitary parameters as required in international trade, and a promise to make a roadmap to bring Rs 50,000 crore private investment in agriculture and allied sectors, according to the manifesto. The ruling party has promised to try to get a geographical indication (GI) tag for the state’s premium sharbati wheat. There is a promise to develop Kisan Samruddhi Corridor, on the lines of industrial corridor, from the state’s eastern corner to the western corner to promote processing, storage and trade. It promises to restructure Rajya Krishak Aayog to advise the state’s agriculture cabinet on doubling farmers’ income. It will have a permanent secretariat under the chief minister’s office.
Releasing the manifesto, Jaitley and Chouhan compared the state’s progress over the last 15 years with the indicators in 2003 when the BJP wrested power from the Congress.
The manifesto promises free education to economically backward students belonging to general category and OBC up to the doctorate level. Manifesto committee chairman Vikram Varma told The Sunday Express that only students belonging to reserved categories now get free education and scholarships. He said BPL and parameters used under the Sambal scheme will be used to identify the new beneficiary students.
The manifesto promises to accord special place to moral and cultural education in education system but does not elaborate on this.
Under industrial investment head, the manifesto offers to start another campaign from Global Investors’ Summit in February 2019 to bring Rs 5 lakh crore investment over the next five years.
The party has promised impartial probe in cases filed under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act by setting up a statewide MIS system to monitor cases and to complete the judicial process without harassment to anyone. MP saw caste tension following alleged dilution of the SC/ST Act after a ruling by the Supreme Court and the subsequent amendment to the legislation by Parliament.
Asked to elaborate, Verma said the state will seek legal consultation before finalising contours of the proposed mechanism. “Our attempt will be to ensure that injustice is not done to anyone,” he said. Chouhan had landed in trouble after publicly announcing that cases will be filed under the act in MP only after a probe.
While the Congress manifesto released exactly a week ago had several references to the cow and promised to develop Ram Van Gaman Path, the BJP manifesto restricted itself to increasing number of gaushalas and promising a cow sanctuary in each division. It has promised to develop Narmada Parikrama (circumambulation) route.
“We are committed to our values out of conviction and some are showing commitment out of convenience, that’s the difference,” said Jaitley, when asked about the Congress’s “attempt to become more saffron than the BJP”.
“What stopped the Congress from saying so all these years? We promised Ram Van Gaman Path last time so there’s no need to repeat it,” said Varma.
State Congress chief Kamal Nath dismissed the BJP manifesto as a pack of lies and empty promises. `”The party has not fulfilled the promises made in 2003, 2008 and 2013 and has repackaged some old schemes,” he said. Nath said investment summits in the past claimed investment worth thousands of crores but none of it saw the light of the day. The promise to create 11 cow sanctuaries amounts to deceit because the only sanctuary in the state has seen cows die for want of fodder, he said.
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