Populist measures were on full display during Sunday's Vijay Sankalp Rally here, as the Congress regime in Haryana tried to woo the voters in the election-bound state.
In one swipe, it has tried to counter the anti-incumbency factor built after two consecutive terms since 2005. Presenting the detailed achievements of his government since 2005 and the new proposals to the huge gathering, chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda hinted that the Congress would be in a direct electoral contest with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Smarting from the jeering he got at Kaithal recently while sharing dais with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said: "Is ka badla vote ki chot se lena hai (we'll hit back with votes)."
Hooda proposed to bring the wages of a section of the state government employees, including the police force, on a par with the salaries in Punjab. If implemented, it will benefit nearly 3-lakh employees, including nearly 45,000 policemen from constable to the inspector level and more than 2.5-lakh Class-3 and -4 workers.
After the recent moving of the retirement age from 58 to 60, Sunday's announcements were the second wave of major decisions to gain the confidence of people before they go in to vote. Before the model code of conduct for the assembly elections is applied, it is believed to be the last major political show of the Hooda regime. The all-Hooda show had no central leader present as the CM made it clear he was playing for hat-trick.
The CM proposed to waive Rs. 154 crore of loans that nearly 1.25-lakh people from the Schedule Castes and Backward Classes had secured from the SC Financial Development Corporation and Haryana BC Welfare Corporation till March 31, 2013. He proposed to waive even the interest, and levy no development fee on the regularised colonies.
He proposed to increase the widow and old-age pensions from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 1,500 a month and to waive the interest on agricultural loans for the farmers who would clear their debt in time. "I also propose a farmer-friendly scheme of paying the 50% interest on the long-term loans," said Hooda.
Wooing Sikh voters, Hooda said he had given them Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (HSGMC) to meet a legitimate demand of the community. He referred to the constituting of State Minority Commission. All proposed schemes announced on Sunday would be implemented from Haryana Day on November 1.
For employees and cops
Pay scales on the Punjab pattern
Loans worth `154-crore waived, to benefit 1.25-lakh people
No interest on crop loan, if principal paid back in time; government to pay half interest if long-term loan paid back in time
For urban voters
Immediate commencement of development works in colonies regularised recently
Old-age pension hiked to Rs. 1,500 a month.
All decisions come into effect from Haryana Day on November 1