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Cong's trump card

The Congress is trying to use "Akshara Dasoha", the ambitious mid-day meal scheme in state as its trump card in the forthcoming poll.
PTI | By Press Trust of India, Bangalore
UPDATED ON APR 12, 2004 01:33 PM IST

The ruling Congress in Karnataka is trying to use as its trump card "Akshara Dasoha", the ambitious mid-day meal scheme being implemented by the state government, in its campaign for the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.

The Congress' attempt to lure the electorate on the success of its mid-day meal scheme, which it has decided to extend upto seventh standard from the coming year and promises to consider further extension to children studying in higher secondary schools, amply makes it evident that the party was trying to cash in on this programme.

Chief Minister S M Krishna, the architect of the Akshara Dasoha programme and who has virtually emerged as the "star campaigner" for Congress, is making it a point to refer to the benefits accrued to 62 lakh poor school going children and relief provided to their parents in all the election rallies he has addressed so far.

Krishna, who launched the Congress Vijaya Dhundubi Yatra last month, has toured parts of North, Central and South Karnataka four times.

At all his stops during the electioneering, the crowd responded enthusiastically at the mention of the success story of mid-day meal scheme.

Krishna makes it a point to tell the story that concerns expressed by a fifth standard girl that she would be deprived of her hot meal upon her promotion to next class prompted him to extend the scheme to students of sixth and seventh standard too.

Krishna has been devoting more time on impressing the electorate on the mid-day meal programme, but he has also not forgotten to lash out at the BJP-led NDA government. During campaigning, he charged that the NDA government had not responded to the state's plea for additional foodgrains for the programme.

The Centre provides foodgrains for the mid-day meal scheme for children studying upto fifth standard.

Enthused by the people's response, Krishna during his campaigning in Central Karnataka announced that the government would consider extending the programme to students studying upto tenth standard in the coming two or three years.

Krishna has also been highlighting the achievements of his four-year-old government in the housing and health sectors and welfare of rural masses.

The Congress is going all out to tell people that it has given a dissidence free-good governance, even as opposition BJP and JDS accuse the ruling party of failing to perform.

Unlike BJP which has come out with its vision document and JD(S) its manifesto, the Congress' manifesto is yet to be released.

For BJP, which is hoping to instal its maiden government in Karnataka, its poll plank is "Vajpayee's feel good factor" and its performance. BJP's Kanataka Unit in its vision document has promised to usher in a second green revolution and good governance if voted to power.

Karnataka has the second largest arid zone in the country after Rajasthan and continuous drought following failure of rains has devastated it.

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