With the release of its 'please all' manifesto for UP assembly elections, the Congress on Tuesday played 'most backward' and the 'minority' cards. The manifesto has a special thrust on youths, technology, health and law and order and a focus on the sub-quota for the most backward classes and minorities in accordance with their population in Uttar Pradesh.
A close scrutiny of the 27-page manifesto reveals that the manifesto has also tried to address the most of the burning issues including corruption. It also promises broadband internet connectivity to every 'panchayat', a school in every village and an intermediate college for every 2500 households.
It promises to 'develop and implement an effective anti-corruption policy' and to bring chief minister under the purview of an independent and efficient lokayukta. It speaks about an effective citizen's charter, a grievance redressal mechanism and setting up of a state grievance redressal commission.
It also promises to institute a code of ethics, for all the civil servants, ministers, MLAs and MLCs, a district reorganisation commission and a state advisory council on the pattern of national advisory council.
After briefly elaborating on the 'Congress' vision for 2020', the manifesto devotes a chapter on the 'complete failure of the BSP led government' on all the fronts. It, however, tries to play safe saying smaller states may be desirable for better administration and effective implementation machinery. "Creating a new state or states always leads to complex issues which require to be deliberated dispassionately by an expert body like a States Reorganisation Commission. If the Congress comes to power in Uttar Pradesh, it will ask the Centre to appoint a Second Reorganisation Commission to look into and address the issues appropriately," says the poll manifesto.
In an obvious bid to counter the Bharatiya Janata Party on the Ram temple issue the Congress' manifesto promises to 'pursue equitable solution of the Babri Masjid dispute saying 'all parties must abide by the verdict of the courts.' "If negotiations are to be held, they must be between the parties to the dispute and must have legal sanction," it says. The manifesto promises scholarship or free education loan to girl students, students from BPL, minorities, SC/ST/OBCs specially the MBCs if they get admission to a recognised college or university. It promises students union elections in all the state universities, a health ombudsman, upgrade all the district hospitals and provide statewide network of ambulances.
As senior party leaders assembled at 10 different cities in the state to release the manifesto a high drama was witnessed there. Union Minister for Human Resources Kapil Sibal, Union Minister for Law Salman Khurshid and Prime Minister's advisor Sam Pitroda released the manifesto in an overcrowded media centre at the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) headquarters here in Lucknow. Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ambika Sonia was among those who released the manifesto in Kanpur.
Speaking to media persons Sibal called the manifesto 'realistic and practical' saying 'no unrealistic promises have been made in the election manifesto. He said the party would provide 'clean Uttar Pradesh' to the people if it formed the next government. Asked how he felt about being projected as a backward face of Congress Pitroda said there was nothing wrong in it. "I am proud to be the son of a carpenter," he said.
On the law and order front the Congress' election manifesto promises to undertake comprehensive police reforms, a women police station in every district, a woman officer in every police station, citizen police community partnership model of policing, security of tenure for the police officers and a rational system for weapon licenses.