Congress releases Gujarat manifesto, promises stipend to jobless, quota to Patidars

Gujarat assembly elections: The Congress is hoping to gain lost ground in a state where the party has been out of power for 22 years.

assembly elections Updated: Dec 05, 2017 08:32 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Ahmedabad
Gujarat elections,Congress manifesto,Gujarat Assembly election 2017
Rahul Gandhi, who filed the nomination for Congress president’s post on Monday, is driving the party’s campaign in Gujarat.(Arvind Yadav / HT )

The Congress promised a stipend to jobless young people, reservation in jobs and education to Patidars, and to reduce petrol and diesel prices in its Gujarat assembly elections manifesto, which was released on Monday.

The party, if voted to power, pledged an unemployment allowance of up to Rs 4,000 a month for each jobless youth in the state. The Congress has been highlighting what it alleged rising unemployment and shrinking job opportunities in BJP-ruled Gujarat and the country in general.

The manifesto, made public by state Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki, makes another concession as it promises reservation in jobs and education to Patidars under a special category.

“We will consult all stakeholders on reservation to Patidars and a commission will be constituted for this purpose,” Solanki said. Thereafter, a bill will be introduced in the state assembly, he added.

The Congress has been trying to woo the Patidars, who have been traditional BJP supporters, but many of them are loggerheads with Gujarat’s ruling party over its demand for reservation.

The Patidar vote could become a deciding factor this election. The BJP is unsure about the unflinching support of Patidars that can influence results in more than 60 of 182 assembly constituencies.

Gujarat was on the edge in August 2015 as Patidars, led by a young and fiery Hardik Patel, held a huge rally in Ahmedabad demanding reservation. The event triggered widespread violence in which 10 people were killed and public property worth crores of rupees was damaged across the state.

Gujarat, where the Congress is out of power for 22 years, goes to the polls on December 9 and 14. Results will be declared on December 18.

The party pledges social sector benefits for other backward classes (OBCs) and weaker sections of society. The Congress is trying win over the OBCs, who comprise 146 castes and make up around 40% of the state’s about 60-million people. Alpesh Thakore, a Dalit leader, joined the party in the run-up to the elections.

Another promise, apparently directed towards traders, transporters and the middle class, the Congress said it would reduce the price of petrol and diesel by up to Rs 10 in the state if it gains power. Besides, the party vows to regulate cooking gas prices to make the commodity affordable.

The manifesto promises a “Sardar Patel Universal Health Card” to provide subsidised healthcare, minimum support price for the state’s main crops, cotton and groundnut, assured electricity for 16 hours a day and up to 200 units of power for Rs 2 a unit.

The party also vowed fast-track courts to deal with crime against women, an electorate that no party can afford to ignore.

The percentage of woman voters is increasing every election. More than 20 million women are likely to vote this assembly election in Gujarat, compared to 1.8 million in 2012.

First Published: Dec 04, 2017 18:26 IST