The Bharatiya Janata Party is making every bid to retain power in the hill state. While the Congress, in its election manifesto, focused on youth, the saffron party goes all out woo voters -- it lays thrust upon the common man. The BJP manifesto has promised freebies to all sections of society. It promises 10 lakh jobs, free induction heaters, free medicines at hospital, insurance cover for lawyers, journalists and truck and taxi drivers apart from free pilgrimage to senior citizens in the state.
With increase in petroleum prices fuelling BJP's election campaign, the ruling party promises to provide cost-free induction heaters to each household. "To give relief to common man from increasing prices of LPG, the BJP, if retains power, will provide cost-free induction heaters to all ration card holders, since electricity is cheaper in Himachal," said chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal while releasing the manifesto in the presence of national vice-president and former chief minister Shanta Kumar, state party chief Satpal Singh Satti, national general secretary JP Nadda, party's state inchrage Kalraj Mishra and his deputy Shyam Jajju.
Dhumal said the party will adopt manifesto as its policy document. He also availed of the opportunity to highlight achievement of the BJP government. Dhumal said the state government has provided 45,000 jobs during the five-year regime and one lakh youth were given jobs in private sector. "We will not promise more than we can deliver."
The BJP has promised to carve out new districts in the state in accordance with the need. The manifesto does not clarify that what criteria would be followed to create new districts. The party also lays thrust on rainwater harvesting.
To appease farming community in the state, the BJP has promised to provide loans to farmers at 2% interest rate. Apart from this, it talks about framing new farming policy. Like the Congress, the BJP manifesto also targets youth. It promises to provide 10 lakh jobs in the state.
Simultaneously, the manifesto is silent on the job avenues. To make the youth self-reliant, a loan up to Rs 1 lakh will be provided at 2% interest rate. The manifesto also emphasises on upgrading skills of youth. There will be transfer policy for school teachers, it said.
Facing criticism for allowing private universities to come up in a big way, the BJP promised that these education institutions will not be allowed change land use. The manifesto promises to continue subsidy on ration and electricity. Once again the BJP promised to ensure 80% jobs to Himachali youth in industrial sector even though the government failed to ensure 70% job quota to Himachalis in private industrial sector.
Taking care of its trusted vote bank, the BJP had given value-added tax (VAT) exemption up to Rs 100,000 to small-time traders. The manifesto talks about its promotion of health tourism in the state. It promises to give boost to Panchkarma. It also promises to enhance daily wages from Rs 150 to Rs 250. The manifesto promises to increase income of other backward classes from Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 4.5 lakh and will be further increased accordingly.
The manifesto does not talk about any concrete steps to protect environment, while there is mention about promoting renewable energy. Like the Congress manifesto, it also talks about regularising contract teachers employed under the Parent Teachers Association. Anti-conversion law will be strengthened. The BJP promises to set up more CA stores in apple growing areas. But there is no mention about strengthening road infrastructure, which is one of the major concern areas for apple growers.
The BJP's manifesto promises to increase electricity generation from existing 12,000 megawatt to 20,000 megawatt. The panchayat registering more than 90% voting in the elections will be rewarded, says the manifesto. It also talks about adding 500 new buses to the government fleet.
Highlights of BJP manifesto
*The party promises to provide 10 lakh jobs
*Free induction heaters and free medicines at hospitals.
*Insurance cover to lawyers, journalists and truck and taxi drivers.
*Free pilgrimage to senior citizens in the state.
*Panchayats registering more than 90% voting in elections will be rewarded.
*To increase electricity generation from existing 12,000mw to 20,000mw.
*Enhancing daily wages from Rs 150 to Rs 250.
*Law and Sanskrit university.
*Creation of new districts.
What it missed
*No mention of resource mobilisation.
*No comment over the clean drinking water policy.
*Failed to announce any policy for farmers' protection from natural vagaries.
*Manifesto does not mention about the sector in which jobs will be created.
*No promise about developing sports infrastructure.
*Manifesto silent on strengthening government-run universities, more focus on private institutes.
*Railway expansion ignored.
*It says nothing about the industrial development policy in the state.
*No mention of tourism development in interior areas.
*Pensioners and ex-servicemen are not assured of any benefits.