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UP polls Congress manifesto: Law on hate crimes, aid for women, insurance for farmers

The manifesto promised free school education for every girl child and a state law guaranteeing 150 days of employment.

Congress Uttar Pradesh President Raj Babbar,Gulam Nabi Azad,Salman Khursheed,Sheela Dixit,Pramod tiwari,Ashok Gehlot and Nirmal Kharti releasing Congress Menifesto for 2017 State Election at state congress head office in Lucknow on wednesday.Express photo by Vishal Srivastav 08.02.2017 Congress Uttar Pradesh President Raj Babbar,Gulam Nabi Azad,Salman Khursheed,Sheela Dixit,Pramod tiwari,Ashok Gehlot and Nirmal Kharti releasing Congress Menifesto for 2017 State Election at state congress head office in Lucknow on wednesday.Express photo by Vishal Srivastav 08.02.2017

Contesting state Assembly polls in alliance with the Samajwadi Party, Congress declared its manifesto on Wednesday, which focused on women, unemployed youths and farmers, and referred to the alliance as an “important moment” in history to “combat divisive and narrow-minded politics”. If voted to power, the party promised a new law on hate crimes, 50 per cent reservation for women in panchayat elections, “suraksha mitras” for Dalits, loan waivers for farmers, financial aid to girls when they turn 18 and abolition of entry tax on goods, among others. Referring to the “failure” of the Centre in its election manifesto, the Congress sought to call Varanasi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a “testament to the falsehood of promises” made by the BJP government.

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The party made just one promise specific to Muslims in the state — an entrepreneurship fund providing low interest loans of upto Rs 2 lakh to young women and men belonging to the minority community.

The manifesto promised free school education for every girl child and a state law guaranteeing 150 days of employment. It alleged that the Centre had “abandoned” MNREGA.

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Targeting unemployed youth, the party assured to provide jobs to at least 50 lakh youths over the next five years, and a separate cell in the chief minister’s office focusing just on creating jobs. The Congress promised that special classes would be held in villages to usher in cyber literacy and set up book banks in districts.

The party went on to assure that a new law would be enacted on hate crimes, aimed at giving enhanced punishment to those who seek to create tension on the basis of caste, gender and religion. The manifesto also promised a ‘criminal injuries compensation board’ for victims of violence and their families. Like BJP, the Congress too promised three women police stations in every district and undertaking police reforms.

On safety and growth of women, Congress assured 50 per cent reservation for them in panchayat elections and the setting up of a state mahila bank to ensure quick loans. A ‘Kanya Sashaktikaran Yojana’, through which every girl child would get Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh when she turns 18, plus hostels for working women in urban areas and scholarships for higher studies, also find mention in the manifesto.

Wooing SCs, STs and OBCs, Congress promised to appoint a ‘diversity commission’ to ensure equal opportunities to oppressed groups as well as free legal aid to contest cases filed against them. It also assured the appointment of ‘suraksha mitras’, who would provide assistance in filing cases in crimes committed against Dalits.

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The manifesto included provision of upto Rs 3 lakh of monetary assistance for SC, ST and OBC youths to start a business, with a special agency for development of “Dalit entrepreneurship”. It promised to introduce ‘Ambedkar Arogyashree’ scheme, whereby it would provide medical facility upto Rs 2 lakh to SCs, STs and OBCs. As many as Rs 10,000 would be provided for marriage of each girl in these communities. On the infrastructure front, the Congress promised the construction of a ‘Ganga highway’ and ‘aashtha paths’. While the Ganga highway would connect educational and industrial hubs from Garh to Gorakhpur, aastha paths would be constructed for kanwariyas, and Zaireens (Muslim pilgrims) during Urs celebrations.

Abolition of entry tax is also mentioned in the manifesto.

Sops for farmers included warehouses, cold storage, crop and livestock insurance, setting up of an ‘agriculture price commission’ to ensure adequate returns to farmers for their crop over the minimum support price announced by the Centre. The party also promised strong action against builders not fulfilling their promises, and a ‘night safari’ in Greater Noida.

Sights set on 2019

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With the inclusion of a few promises for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the manifesto appeared to look beyond UP elections. While promising multiple world-class medical colleges across UP, starting with Varanasi, along with AIIMS in Varanasi and Lucknow, it also assured super-fast inter-city trains between New Delhi and different cities of UP.

Besides party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s promise of ‘Karza Maaf, Bijli Half’, the manifesto guaranteed slashing of electricity bills for farmers and artisans by half.

First published on: 09-02-2017 at 04:53:05 am
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