The Bharatiya Janata Party released its manifesto – the ‘Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra‘ – on Tuesday, for the upcoming assembly election in Uttar Pradesh. Originally scheduled to be launched on February 6, the launch was postponed following the death of iconic singer Lata Mangeshkar. The manifesto was released by Home Minister Amit Shah, state unit head Swatantra Dev Singh, and incumbent CM Yogi Adityanath.
According to the election manifesto, voters will be offered a long list of freebies, including free electricity for farmers for irrigation purposes, and at least one job or opportunity for self-employment to every family.
The incumbent BJP government has given substantial room in its manifesto to the general well-being of farmers and women in Uttar Pradesh, where the first round of the seven-phased state assembly election begins on Thursday. According to commentators, it has the potential to modernise state affairs and education.
If the party comes to power again this year, it would provide free electricity to farmers for agriculture for the next five years. In addition, the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Agri-Infrastructure Mission worth Rs 25,000 crores would establish cold chain centres, godowns, and processing units throughout the state. The manifesto calls for the establishment of a Minimum Support Price (MSP) for wheat and rice, as well as a budget of Rs 5000 crores for sugarcane mill modernisation. Furthermore, the manifesto promises that sugarcane farmers will be paid within 14 days, with interest, if payment is delayed. According to the manifesto, the state would also create up to six ‘Mega Food Parks’.
In terms of women’s empowerment, the party promised that under the ‘Mukhya Mantri Kanya Sumangala Yojana’, financial aid will be increased from Rs 15,000 to 20,000. Similarly, girls from low-income families will be given financial assistance of up to Rs 1 lakh for marriage. Moreover, every Holi and Diwali, the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana will provide two free LPG cylinders to women. Critics have argued that by eliminating other religious communities’ holidays, the party is expressing its predilection for the Hindu majority. The manifesto guarantees free transportation for ladies over the age of 60. A total of Rs 1000 crores would be spent on ‘Mission Pink Toilet’, while widows’ monthly stipends will be increased to Rs 1500. The manifesto promises the installation of CCTV cameras in public places and near educational institutions, and the establishment of 3000 Pink Police booths. The number of women in government employment would be doubled under the Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission.
In terms of education, ‘Mission Kayakalp’ will be started to produce furniture such as tables and benches for elementary schools, and the state’s 30,000 secondary schools and institutions would be modernised. Universities such as the Raja Mahendra Pratap University in Aligarh and Maharaja Suheldev University in Azamgarh have sophisticated infrastructure and world-class amenities. In Lucknow and Noida, digital research institutions will be established.
The release of the Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra was made into a mega event with the party’s high profile campaigner, Home Minister Amit Shah air-dashing from New Delhi to preside over. “Hum ghoshna-patra nahi, sankalp-patra jaari kar rahe hain”, said the chief minister, emphasising that he means business and does not believe in just making announcements.
It was also evident throughout the hour-long event, which was attended by BJP bigwigs, that the party had picked up most of its points from the carts of its rivals, including the Samajwadi Party and the Congress. The BJP manifesto didn’t mention Kashi or Mathura, which was a surprise. Ayodhya is only mentioned in relation to building an international airport.
It also speaks of setting up a dialysis unit in each of the state’s 75 districts. Both the BJP and SP have pledged free higher education for women. In the same way, both also call for free rides for women on public transportation. The BJP has promised to distribute 2 crore smartphones and tablets, an obvious follow-up to the distribution of laptops and tablets by the last government.
With manifestos becoming more of a rite, it is hard to tell how much impact they will have on voters’ minds. In the seven-phase poll, which begins February 10, western Uttar Pradesh will be the first region to vote. The votes will be counted on March 10.