Cash for unemployed youth likely in Congress Haryana poll pledge
The Congress is likely to promise cash incentives to educated jobless youths, elderly couple and housewives apart from farm loan waiver within 24 hours of coming to power in Haryana in its manifesto for the October 21 elections.
A senior Congress functionary familiar with the development said the poll document — that contains promises, programmes and policies of a party for the next five years if voted to power — has been finalised and will be released in Chandigarh on Friday.
Giving details, the functionary said the Congress is likely to pledge Rs 10,000 per month to postgraduate unemployed youth, Rs 7,000 to unemployed graduate youth, Rs 10,200 a month to old-age couples (Rs 5100 each) at their doorsteps and Rs 2000 per month to a poor woman to buy cooking gas.
According to the Centre for Monitoring India Economy (CMIE), the unemployment rate of 28.7% in Haryana is the highest in the country followed by Tripura at 27.9% and Himachal Pradesh at 19.2 %.
Battling a massive infighting that resulted in the exit of former Haryana unit president Ashok Tanwar and some other leaders, the Congress is facing an uphill task of ousting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from power in the upcoming polls.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi had last month tried to quell the factionalism in the state unit of the party by replacing Tanwar, who was at the helm for six years, with senior leader Kumari Selja and also pacified former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda by appointing him the legislature party leader and involving him in the candidate selection process.
Hooda had repeatedly argued that the Haryana Congress under Tanwar had lost two Lok Sabha and one assembly elections besides many local bodies’ polls and failed to revive the party and keep its flock together.
With the offer of such cash doles, the Congress hopes to do what former chief minister Devi Lal had done in the 1987 assembly elections.
Lal had then promised old-age pension, unemployment allowance and a share in government-owned trees apart from the farm loan waiver. But the biggest vote-catcher turned out to be the announcement of Rs 100 a month to the educated unemployed youth of the state.
As a result, the alliance of Lal’s Lok Dal and the BJP won 76 out of the total 90 seats in those elections.
The Congress hopes such sops will upset the BJP that is banking heavily on the “clean image and good governance” of chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar besides the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
However, its promise of Nyay (Nyuntam Aay Yojana) or minimum income guarantee scheme had failed to get much traction in the April-May Lok Sabha elections.
Under this scheme, the party had pledged that Rs 72,000 a year or Rs 6,000 a month would be transferred in bank accounts of women members of the country’s 20% or 5 crore poorest of the poor families.
While the Congress suffered a massive electoral drubbing winning just 52 Lok Sabha seats, it failed to open its account in Haryana where the BJP won all the 10 seats.
In its manifesto for Haryana, the Congress is also set to promise a farm loan waiver within 24 hours of coming to power, a pledge it had also made during the December 2018 assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in December 2018.
While the Congress won the three states, it fared badly five months later in the Lok Sabha elections. It failed to win even a single Lok Sabha seat in Rajasthan, won two in Chhattisgarh and one in Madhya Pradesh.
Political analysts say the proposed measures might help the Congress in the elections. “Much depends on whether the Congress is able to counter the BJP’s narrative of nationalism with its social welfare promises,” said Rajendra Sharma, head of political science department, Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak.
“The Congress’ record in social welfare schemes has been good if one looks at MGNREGA, RTI and farm loan waiver announced by the UPA. But for that the party has to ensure that it does not fall into the BJP’s trap of nationalism. If they (Congress) succeed in coming out of that, it will be good for them and bring electoral benefits for them,” he added.