The Congress on Friday vowed to transform Himachal Pradesh into a developed state of the country. But interestingly, the party manifesto is silent on some of the burning issues confronting the state.
Releasing its manifesto for the assembly elections, the Congress promised to give allowance to unemployed youth, corruption-free governance and uplift of poor Dalits.
The manifesto was released in presence All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Chaudhary Birender Singh, Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee president Virbhadra Singh, union commerce minister Anand Sharma, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, former PCC chief Kaul Singh Thakur and Congress legislature party leader Vidya Stokes.
"We have taken into account inputs from all senior leaders and incorporated their valuable suggestions," said union minister for commerce Anand Sharma, chairman of the election manifesto committee.
Hoping to encash on young voters who comprise nearly 50% of electors, the Congress has loaded its manifesto with promises to woo young generation. The party also announced to give unemployment allowance. While reading out the manifesto, Anand Sharma announced unemployment allowance of Rs1, 000 per month to all Plus Two passouts and graduates whose total family income is up to Rs 2 lakh per annum. In the last election manifesto, the Congress had promised honorarium for unemployed.
The Congress has announced to launch a new scheme -- Rajiv Gandhi Digital Student Yojana under which 10,000 boys and girls of Plus Two who perform exceptionally well in examinations will be benefitted. The Congress had made a similar promise in Uttar Pradesh. The Congress also promises to give learning laptops to toppers.
The manifesto talks about improving the financial condition of the debt-ridden state. The Congress promised that efforts will be made to enhance per capita income to ensure development of the state along with inclusive growth for its people. But at the same time, the manifesto does not clarify on the measures the party will take to improve financial condition of the state.
The Congress promised to implement welfare scheme of the UPA government, which were not implemented by the present BJP regime. The Congress proposed to set up administrative commission for proper re-organisation of boundaries of all tehsils, sub-tehsils, sub-divisions and districts for ensuring better governance.
It also talked of giving a corruption-free government. "Corruption will not be tolerated, scams of the BJP government will be investigated and responsibility will be fixed in all illegal cases," said Anand Sharma. At the same time, the Congress manifesto skipped the need for strong Lokayukta in the state. It talked about bringing transparency and ensuring time-bound completion of all works by stipulating guidelines and timelines through a citizen's charter.
The manifesto promises that special schemes for small and marginal farmers will be introduced to provide subsidy for good seeds for cultivation of crop like maize, rice, wheat, potato, tomato and other such fruits and vegetable. "All efforts will be made to reduce burden on farmers through partial and absolute loan waiver," says the manifesto.
Keeping in mind the significance of apple-growing areas in the state, the Congress manifesto promises to triple customs duty on apple imports. "Efforts will be made to include apple in the special category at the time of implementation of WTO agreement," says the manifesto while it promises to give 90% subsidy on the hail nets.
The Congress promised to rejuvenate tea industry in Kangra with the active support of the central government. There is a proposal for implementing replantation scheme on priority. The party is quiet on increasing cap for subsidised LPG cylinders from six to nine in a year to economically disadvantaged families and on price rise.
Handicapped unemployed graduate youths will be given an unemployment allowance of Rs1,500 per month, it said.
Special emphasis will be given on skill and vocational enhancement to create 100,000 job opportunities annually, said the manifesto. A skill development corporation with an outlay of Rs 500 crore will be set up to tackle the problem of unemployment.
Like last time, the monkey menace also figures on the Congress manifesto. It is, however, silent on tree demarcation policy. To promote food processing industry, a state-level vision document will be prepared after consulting the central government. It also promised to build an airport of international standards near Shimla to attract more tourists, especially high-end visitors.
To woo the fruit growers, the Congress said private investments would be encouraged to create infrastructure in integrated cold chains, grading and packaging and agro and food processing. There is also a proposal of setting up a skill development corporation with an investment of Rs 500 crore.
The Congress says new industrial policy will be formulated for attracting investment to the state. It proposes to unbundle electricity board and restructure its finances after taking all employees into confidence. There is also proposal of constructing 7,500km new roads. The manifesto does not mention anything about express highways, which were planned by the previous government. There also is no concrete proposal to tap tourism potential in the state. There is no proposal for expanding the rail network either.
To woo the employees the Congress, promises to regularise jobs of employees working on contract. A wage commission will be set up.
What Cong missed
The manifesto does not refer to any concrete policy for employment generation.
There is no mention about environment protection.
The Congress manifesto is silent on sports promotion.
There is no reference about generation of financial resources.
Allowance to youth to come with rider.
No mention about increasing number of subsidised LPG cylinders.
Talks about new policies for power and tourism sectors, but does not elaborate.
No mention of concrete measures to tap tourism potential.
Free travel for gallantry award winners in all deluxe Volvo buses operating in the state.
An unemployment allowance of Rs 1,000 per month to all youth whose total family income is up to Rs 2 lakh.
Policy of appointment on compassionate grounds.
The benefits of industrial package will be made available to the industries set up in the remote and interior areas.
A skill development corporation with an outlay of Rs 500 crore.
Proposal to unbundle the electricity board restructure its finances.