The Indian National Congress released its manifesto for Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday, one day before the first phase of voting commenced in the state. Priyanka Gandhi, the party’s general secretary, unveiled the manifesto ‘Unnati Vidhan’ in Lucknow, which focuses largely on empowering and uplifting women, farmers, and small traders in UP.
While releasing the manifesto, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said, “The Congress party believes that the people of Uttar Pradesh deserve a government that puts their progress and well-being at the centre of its agenda. The people of the state need such a political system that can bring positive changes in their lives. UP Congress’s Unnati Vidhan will prepare the way for this.”
Playing it safe, the manifesto seems to have included all suggestions from the people of Uttar Pradesh. It includes promises like waiving off farmers’ loans within 10 days of coming to power, slashing their electricity bill in half, and waiving their bill during the COVID-19 pandemic period. Furthermore, it promises MSPs of Rs 400 per quintal on sugarcane, Rs 2,500 per quintal on wheat and rice, and a compensation of Rs 3,000 in case of damage caused by stray animals. The manifesto promises to launch the Godhan Nyay Yojana, in which, cow dung is procured at a rate of Rs 2 per kilogram.
According to the manifesto, each family is entitled to three gas cylinders per year, free of charge. A pension of Rs 1,000 will be offered to the elderly and widows, and a pension of Rs 3,000 will be offered to people with disabilities. The manifesto promises to increase honoraria for ASHA anganwadi workers from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 monthly, along with a Rs 50 lakh compensation for COVID warriors. Further, it proposes to increase health expenditures to 5 percent of the state’s annual budget. To empower women, the manifesto proposes a 40 percent reservation in government jobs and the posting of women in police districts. It also proposes reserving a seat in the Vidhan Parishad for ex-servicemen.
The party has also proposed ending outsourcing and regularising contract employees in a phased manner, alongside regulating Safai workers. It said that the honorarium to cooks engaged in government schemes will be increased to Rs 5,000, with an increase in the salary of village heads to Rs 6.000, and that of village chowkidars to Rs 5,000. It has promised to fill the 2 lakh vacancies among government teachers. The manifesto suggests organising festivals dedicated to the Ganga river in Prayagraj and Varanasi, and declaring Parshuram Jayanti a public holiday.
Members of the scheduled castes and tribes have been promised free education from kindergarten through postgraduate studies if the Congress government comes to power. The members of the two communities will reportedly also be guaranteed priority in promotion, as per the manifesto. The party also promised to provide reservations to members of Dalit sub-categories, and to form a commission to examine their needs and draw up a plan for the upliftment of ‘pasmanda’ (poor) Muslims. Additionally, the party pledged to appoint a leader from the SC to serve as the home minister of UP in order to put an end to the increasing crimes against the Dalit community.
Furthermore, the party promised to grant tribal status to the Kol community, which is listed as a scheduled caste in Uttar Pradesh. In other states such as Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand, they are considered a tribe. To prove their tribal status, the community also refers to the Mahabharata and Ramayana.
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According to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the Congress manifesto isn’t just a list of promises made to voters during the election campaign, and a lot of hard work has gone into the development of this document, which is a blueprint that also shows how the promises will be fulfilled.
Meanwhile, the campaign for the first phase of assembly elections in the jat-dominated western Uttar Pradesh came to a close on Tuesday. Voting will take place in 11 districts including Agra, Aligarh, Baghpat, Bulandshahr, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Ghaziabad, Hapur, Mathura, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, and Shamli, on Thursday.
The assembly election in Uttar Pradesh will be held in seven phases: February 10, February 14, February 20, February 25, February 27, March 3, and March 7. The votes will be counted on March 10.