New Delhi: In its bid to regain power in Haryana, an under-fire Congress is preparing to declare a please-all manifesto, promising a thali for Rs 10, unemployment allowance of around Rs 10,000 a month, old-age pension to the tune of Rs 5,100 per month and 50 per cent jobs for residents in industries coming up in the state.
These promises are part of the Congress’ draft manifesto that is in the final stage of preparation before its release Friday. Assembly elections in the state are to be held on 21 October.
The promise of the Rs 10 thali is meant to be a replication of the Indira canteens, which the party’s government in Karnataka had introduced in Bengaluru in 2017. But it would be launched on a much grander scale across Haryana, Congress sources said.
In its manifesto, the Congress has proposed to set up canteens that will sell the thalis in every tehsil of the state. The party is looking at opening nearly 100 such canteens if it is voted to power.
The manifesto also promises a commando force to combat crime in Haryana. “The increase in crime has led to safety concerns and insecurity among the people of Haryana,” said a senior Congress leader involved in drafting the poll document. “The commando force will work alongside the police to reduce crime. There will be a selection process but the details are yet to be worked out.”
But this isn’t all. Taking the BJP head-on on unemployment, the Congress is set to offer reservation in the private sector.
“For the youth, we will offer to fix the dismal job situation in Haryana. Industries that have signed a contract with the government, whether in terms of land acquisition or anything else, will have to set aside 50 per cent of their jobs for the residents of Haryana,” the Congress leader added.
The party faces an uphill task in Haryana where the factionalism, which has plagued the party since 2014, has already marred this election campaign. Former state unit president, Ashok Tanwar, who led one of the factions, has revolted openly, accusing the party of selling tickets in the state. He has since resigned.
Other senior leaders are also extremely upset by what they see as the “influence” of former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who led the other faction, on the ticket distribution process.
The Congress is also up against a marauding BJP and Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who has earned a reputation of being an effective administrator with very little baggage, especially on the corruption front.
In ‘janta’ manifesto, loan waivers, pension scheme
Faced with bleak prospects, the Congress is set to play up its manifesto as a ‘janta (people’s) manifesto’ that will cater to all sections of society.
“A 51-member team reached out to people across the state, from villages, mandals and cities to collate the concerns of the people. This manifesto is the people’s word,” said the senior Congress leader. The manifesto team is headed by former CLP leader Kiran Choudhry.
As part of this outreach, the party is proposing to offer old-age pension of Rs 5,100 per month for men over 58 years of age and women over 55. The manifesto also promises an unemployment allowance of Rs 10,000 a month. This amount, however, is yet to be finalised.
For farmers of the state, the Congress is promising a loan waiver of up to Rs 1 lakh for those associated with cooperative societies.
Traders will be offered an insurance policy that will be 10 per cent of their turnover and will be covered in entirety by the government in case of any mishap in their businesses.
“If the turnover is Rs 50 lakh, we will offer a Rs 5 lakh insurance premium and if it is Rs 1 crore, it will be Rs 10 lakh,” another Congress leader said.
The Congress is also promising to set up a hospital and a model school in every district to ensure access to healthcare and education. It will also offer 300 units of free power to all per month.
“Most children in Haryana often drop out of government schools and prefer private ones,” the Congress leader said. “These model schools will offer technical education and skill development so that these children don’t have to go to private schools.”