In their poll manifestos, both the parties have emphasised their commitments on socio-economic issues, addressing the farmers’ crisis, women’s empowerment, LPG cylinder prices, unemployment, inflation, health, and education.
New Delhi: As elections unfold in five states, both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in their poll manifestos, have emphasised their commitments on socio-economic issues, addressing the farmers’ crisis, women’s empowerment, LPG cylinder prices, unemployment, inflation, health, and education.
Elections have taken place in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, and Rajasthan. Telangana is scheduled to vote on November 30.
The election results will be declared on December 3.
The Wire analyses the main thrust of the two parties’ promises in the five election-bound states.
In their manifestos for all five states, both the Congress and the BJP have highlighted their commitment to provide increased support to farmers to alleviate the agrarian crisis in the states.
In Chhattisgarh, considered the rice bowl of India, poll promises to farmers, including farm loan waivers, and competitive politics over the price of paddy between the incumbent Congress and the BJP, is being seen as the pivot that could decide the elections in the state.
The BJP has promised to procure paddy at Rs 3,100 per quintal (21 quintals per acre) – Rs 500 more than what the current Congress government offers. It has also promised to deliver on the outstanding paddy procurement bonus for the last two years of the Raman Singh government (2003-2018) at Rs 300 per quintal by December 25, if it comes to power.
The Congress, on the other hand, has promised to procure paddy at Rs 3,200 (20 quintal per acre). In addition, it has also promised to once again waive farm loans as it did in the 2018 elections.
In Rajasthan, the Congress has promised to bring a law to implement the minimum support price (MSP), following the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations. It has also decided to provide interest-free loans of up to Rs 2 lakh to all farmers from cooperative banks, and withdraw pending cases against farmers in connection with their participation in protests.
In comparison, the BJP has promised to provide additional assistance of Rs 12,000 to farmers under the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi, free education to farmers’ children, an additional bonus of Rs 2,700 per quintal over the MSP on wheat, along with providing MSP on jowar and bajra.
Similarly, in Madhya Pradesh, the BJP has promised to provide additional assistance of Rs 12,000 to farmers under the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi, and an MSP of Rs 2,700 per quintal of wheat and Rs 3,100 per quintal for paddy.
The Congress in Madhya Pradesh, like in Chhattisgarh, has promised to give loan waivers to farmers (up to Rs 2 lakh), along with an MSP of Rs 2,600 for wheat and Rs 2,500 for rice. In Chhattisgarh, it has also promised to provide free electricity to farmers up to 5 horsepower and at half the rate up to 10 HP. [1 HP is equal to 746 watts.]
In Telangana, the BJP has promised to provide a fertiliser subsidy of over Rs 18,000 per acre as well as input assistance to small and marginal farmers, along with free crop insurance under the PM Fasal Bima Yojana. It has also promised to procure paddy at Rs 3,100, give free desi milk-yielding cows to willing farmers, and develop a “first of its kind Nizamabad Turmeric City”.
In comparison, the Congress has repeated its promise of providing farm loan waivers, and increased bonuses on all crops over the Centre-mandated MSP. It has also promised to give financial assistance of Rs 15,000 per acre to land-owning and tenant farmers, and Rs 12,000 per annum to landless labourers. Among other commitments, it has promised to establish a Turmeric Board, provide insurance and integrate agricultural work into MGNREGA.
Both the Congress and the BJP have promised to scrap the KCR government’s Dharani portal, an integrated land records management system in the state that has become a point of contention ahead of the polls.
In Mizoram, the BJP has once again promised to increase financial assistance under PM Kisan Samman Nidhi, along with an investment of Rs 1,000 crore to revamp agricultural infrastructure, Dairy Mission and Tropical Fruit Mission, to support dairy and fruit farming. It has also committed to providing an annual support of Rs 6,000 to fish farmers.
The Congress has promised to support farmers and entrepreneurs in developing sustainable economic and livelihood activities through the ‘Tang Puihna’ scheme, under which it will provide a monetary assistance of Rs 2 lakh.
The promise to provide cheaper LPG cylinders
With the Modi government facing persistent criticism for rising inflation and fuel prices, cheaper LPG cylinders have become a mainstay in both the parties’ manifestos.
In August, with an eye on the upcoming state elections, the Union government reduced the price of domestic LPG by Rs 200, projecting it as a ‘Rakhi gift’ to women. However, the move drew attention to how high the price of domestic LPG was and how the Rs 200 cut was a small fraction of the increase since 2014.
The promise of cheaper LPG cylinders is believed to have helped the Congress in winning the Karnataka elections earlier this year. Banking on the victory, the party has committed to providing LPG cylinders at Rs 400 in Rajasthan (where the current price is Rs 500). The BJP has promised to provide them at Rs 450 to Ujjwala Yojana beneficiaries.
In Chhattisgarh, both parties have promised to offer LPG cylinders at a rate of Rs 500.
In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress has promised to provide them at Rs 500, while the BJP has committed to Rs 450.
In Telangana, the Congress has promised to give LPG cylinders at Rs 500, while the BJP has promised to provide four gas cylinders free per year to Ujjwala Yojana beneficiaries.
In Mizoram, the Congress has promised to provide subsidised cylinders at Rs 750, while the BJP has promised to give two gas cylinders free per year to Ujjwala Yojana beneficiaries.
Wooing the women voter
Apart from LPG cylinders, both the Congress and the BJP have included various other promises in their poll manifestos with women’s empowerment remaining a mainstay.
In Rajasthan, one of the BJP’s main points of attack on the incumbent Ashok Gehlot government has been the alleged lack of women’s safety.
Both parties have promised to install CCTV cameras for women’s safety, along with 33% reservation for women in the police force.
While the Congress has promised to reduce the average time taken to investigate sexual harassment cases, the BJP has promised to form fast-track courts for the same.
The Congress has also promised to give Rs 10,000 to the women heads of the family households, while the BJP has announced the Lado Protsahan Yojana, which will provide a savings bond of Rs 2 lakh for the girl child.
In Madhya Pradesh – where the BJP’s incumbent chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is riding on the popularity of the Ladli Behna scheme, under which a monthly stipend of Rs 1,250 is given to every adult woman – the party has promised to build concrete homes for all Ladli Behna beneficiaries. It said it will hike the financial assistance under the Ladli Laxmi scheme which provides financial assistance to girls from Below Poverty Line (BPL) families from birth to 21 years of age, to Rs 2 lakh.
Similarly, the Congress has promised to provide Rs 2.51 lakh to girls from birth till their marriage, under the Meri Bitiya Rani Yojana, along with a monthly stipend of Rs 1,500. It said it will also provide financial assistance to encourage widow remarriage and give an aid of around Rs 1 lakh under the Beti Vivah Yojana.
In Telangana, the BJP, under the Aada-Bidda Barosa, has promised to provide a fixed deposit when a girl child is born, and that money can be redeemed at the age of 21. In addition, it has promised to create 10 lakh new jobs for women, provide loans at 1% interest for women self-help groups, and form a Mahila Rythu Corporation for women farmers.
The Congress has promised free travel for women in state buses and, like in Rajasthan, the party has promised to give electric scooters to female students above the age of 18. Under the Kalyanamastu scheme, the party has promised to give 10 grams of gold, along with Rs 1 lakh, to girls belonging to the BPL families at the time of their marriage. It has also promised to develop a skill development centre for aspiring women entrepreneurs, and strengthen the women’s police force, and expand it in villages and towns.
In Chhattisgarh, the Congress has promised to provide monthly assistance of Rs 15,000 to women, under the Griha Lakshmi Yojana. Among other commitments, it has promised to provide loan waivers for women’s self-help groups.
The BJP has promised to provide financial assistance of Rs 12,000 to married women, under the Mahtari Vandan Yojana. For girls from BPL families, the party has promised to launch the Rani Dagwati Yojana issue assurance certificates of Rs 1.5 lakh.
Similarly, in Mizoram, the BJP has promised to provide financial assistance of Rs 1.5 lakh to every girl child, along with free quality education to female students studying from KG to PG.
Just like in Rajasthan, where the Congress government already has such a scheme in place, the BJP has promised to provide free scooters to meritorious girl students of class 12. It has also promised to provide women with a 33% reservation in government jobs, and develop the first all-women police battalion.
Youth and employment
Both the parties have made declarations to address unemployment among the youth.
In Rajasthan, the Congress has promised to create 10 lakh employment opportunities, including 4 lakh jobs in the government sector.
The BJP has promised to provide 2.5 lakh government jobs in five years.
In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress appears to be banking on the discontentment among the youngsters and the unemployed for a change in power. It has promised unemployment assistance of Rs 1,500 to 3,000 per month to those youngsters who don’t have jobs. It has also promised to set up job portals and Rozgaar Bureaus.
It has also promised to bring in a law for the government jobs recruitment process, and fill 2 lakh government job vacancies.
The BJP – which has been facing criticism for failing to provide livelihoods – has promised to ensure that at least one person will be employed in every family. The party has promised to give Rs 10,000 stipend to the youngsters.
It said it aims to take Madhya Pradesh to the top three states in terms of economic growth, in the next seven years.
In Chhattisgarh, the BJP has promised to probe the Public Service Commission scam in the state and make all government recruitment exams on the lines of the UPSC. Both the Congress and the BJP have also promised a 50% subsidy on loans for youth-led startups.
In Telangana, where the TSPSC (Telangana State Public Service Commission) recruitment and exams have been mired in protests over delays, paper leaks and unfilled vacancies, the BJP has promised to finish the recruitment process, in line with the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission). It has promised to fill government job vacancies, including those which come under the EWS quota, within six months.
The Congress has also promised to revamp the TSPSC on the lines of the UPSC.
Separately, it has promised to recognise the martyrs of the Telangana movement and provide their families with government jobs. It has promised to give official freedom fighter cards to those who participated in the Telangana movement. It has also promised to fill two lakh government jobs within the first year of coming to power, and a monthly unemployment allowance of Rs 4,000.
In Mizoram, the BJP has promised to give jobs to at least one member of every family. It has also promised to develop the Mizoram Olympic Mission, which aims to empower the youth to contribute to India’s medal tally at the Olympics, along with other sports infrastructure.
In comparison, the Congress has also promised to develop the Young Mizo Entrepreneurs Programme to fund startups and create 1 lakh jobs, along with the ‘Tang Puihna’.
Caste census and backward castes’ development
In keeping with its growing clamour for a nationwide caste census, the Congress has promised to conduct the survey in all poll-bound states.
The BJP, however, has not taken a definite stand on the caste census. However, it has made various promises in its poll manifestos for the development of the backward caste communities.
In Telangana, the saffron party has promised to appoint the state’s first backward caste chief minister, if voted to power. It has also promised to come up with a Uniform Civil Code and remove “religion-based reservation”. It has also promised to increase reservations for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Scheduled Tribe (ST) and Scheduled Caste (SC) communities.
In Chhattisgarh, where tribal communities makes up about 30% of the state, the party has promised to provide financial assistance and incentives to tendu leaf collectors, build schools for the Adivasi community, among others.
In Madhya Pradesh, where the tribal population accounts for about 21%, the party has promised to invest Rs 3 lakh crore in the development of education, social and health sectors for the tribal population. This investment will also help build schools in every ST block. In addition, it has promised to invest over Rs 100 crore for the development of religious places for the community.
In Rajasthan, the party has made promises on similar lines. It has pledged to fill all vacancies for SC/STs in government posts, distribute ST certificates in a timely manner, and enforce forest rights, among others.
Both parties have made a slew of promises to develop education and healthcare sectors in all five states.
The Congress has promised to set up government-run English medium schools, provide free education to children from KG to PG in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan. In Telangana, it has promised to introduce English gradually in all government schools, along with primary schools in every village and a degree college in every assembly constituency.
On the other hand, the BJP has promised to develop a nodal school in Telangana, which will do “hand holding and capacity building of teachers” in every mandal. It has also promised to offer tax exemptions for budget private schools in the state, and overhaul Telangana Social Welfare Schools, which provide education to over 10 lakh students.
The party has also promised to give free education in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. Along with the promise to implement the New Education Policy, it has committed to setting up engineering colleges on the lines of IITs and medical colleges on the lines of AIIMS, in every division in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
In Rajasthan, the Congress has promised to double the coverage under its flagship health insurance scheme – the Mukhyamantri Nishulk Chiranjeevi Swasthya Bima Yojana – from Rs 25 lakh to Rs 50 lakh annually, while the BJP has promised to invest Rs 40,000 crore through the Bhamashah Health Infrastructure Mission.
In Chhattisgarh, the Congress has promised to extend the assistance under Dr Khubchand Baghel Health Assistance Scheme to extend free treatment of up to Rs 10 lakh for the underprivileged and Rs 5 lakh for above poverty line families.
Among other promises, the BJP has committed to double the annual coverage under Ayushman Bharat to Rs 10 lakh, and promised to set up a Chhattisgarh Institute of Medical Science in every division of the state.
In Madhya Pradesh, too, the Congress has promised to bring a Right to Healthcare law and provide health insurance of up to Rs 25 lakh. The BJP has promised to pick up the tab if hospital bills cross Rs 5 lakh under the Ayushman Bharat Yojana. It has also promised to set up an AIIMS-like institute in every division of the state.
In Telangana, the BJP has made a similar promise of setting up AIIMS-like institutes, and in four cities, a super specialty hospital in every district. The Congress has promised to modernise health infrastructure and provide insurance cover of up to Rs 10 lakh, along with filling up vacancies for doctors and nurses in government hospitals.
In Mizoram, the BJP has promised to double insurance under Ayushman Bharat to Rs 10 lakh and invest Rs 500 crore to revamp the health infrastructure in the state, and upgrade district hospitals into super specialty hospitals. The Congress has promised health insurance cover of Rs 15 lakh and investment of Rs 5 crore to assist patients with cancer and other serious ailments.
– The Wire