Bhopal: The Congress Saturday released its manifesto for the crucial by-elections in Madhya Pradesh, promising to continue the incomplete farm loan waiver scheme, vowing not to implement the new farm laws and announcing a pension scheme for women in the event of her husband’s death due to Covid-19.
While releasing the 84-page document, titled ‘Vachan Patra’, former chief minister Kamal Nath claimed that of the 974 promises made in the manifesto for the 2018 assembly elections, 574 were kept during his short-lived government.
The 2018 manifesto was a 112-page document making announcements under 50 different heads.
“Irrespective of the lies peddled by the BJP, we kept most of the promises though we got only eleven-and-a-half months to govern,’’ said the state Congress chief at a press conference.
He said during the 15-month of the Congress rule, nearly two-and-a-half months were consumed by the model code of conduct for the Lok Sabha elections in 2019 (during which no developmental schemes can be announced) and a month was lost in political uncertainties due to BJP’s “saudebazi’’ (wheeling and dealing).
“This election will decide the future of Madhya Pradesh. We don’t want to apologise and we don’t want to give justification because we won the mandate in 2018. The BJP has done nothing in the last seven months to win back voters’ confidence. The BJP lacks credibility and engages in politics to divert attention from real issues by bringing up Pakistan or China ahead of elections,’’ he said.
“But MP voters are smart, they will slap the BJP in the face,” he added.
The bypolls to 28 seats are scheduled to be held on 3 November.
The promise of waiving crop loans up to Rs 2 lakh was believed to be one of the major reasons behind the Congress unseating the BJP, which ruled the state between 2003 and 2018.
Nath claimed that about 27 lakh farmers benefited from the loan waiver scheme before he was unseated by rebel party legislators in March this year.
The loans of the remaining eligible farmers would be waived by the new Congress government, he said.
52 new promises
The new manifesto makes 52 new promises while devoting much of the space to achievements during the Congress’ 15-month rule.
The manifesto offers to provide cheap electricity, more compensation to farmers for crop losses and relief to those affected by the coronavirus pandemic by providing employment/job to a family member in the event of the breadwinner’s death.
Asserting its pro-Hindutva credentials, the Congress also promised to start the ‘Gau Dhan Seva Yojana’ on the lines of ‘Gau Nyay Yojana’ being implemented in Chhattisgarh. The scheme involves buying cow dung from livestock owners and using it to prepare organic fertilizers.
Highlighting Rani Laxmibai’s valour
The new manifesto also stated that the Congress will hold events in educational institutions across the state to highlight queen of Jhansi Rani Laxmibai’s valour and bravery.
The Congress has been trying to “appropriate” Rani Laxmibai in MP to target former Congressman and BJP leader Jyotiraditya Scindia whose ancestors are accused of betraying the Jhansi queen and siding with the British to scuttle the First War of Independence. All politicians in the Scindia family are with the BJP now.
Apart from the main manifesto released in Bhopal, Congress candidates for the 28 seats also released constituency-specific documents with promises and announcements Saturday.
Manifesto a ‘pack of lies’
The ruling BJP, however, dismissed the manifesto as a “pack of lies” and a dossier of promises not kept.
“Instead of making new promises, Kamal Nath should seek forgiveness for having failed to keep promises in the last manifesto,’” state BJP president V.D. Sharma told reporters.
“People did not vote for you (in 2018), you were rewarded for being in good books of the Gandhi family,” he added.
Sharma said farmers were taken for a ride and not one beneficiary of Mukhyamantri Kanya Vivah scheme got Rs 51,000.
When the Congress government came to power in 2018, it had increased the amount under this scheme from Rs 25,000 to Rs 51,000.