Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Mar 29:
Three days after launching its election campaign in Odisha, the Biju Janata Dal finally found the time to release its ‘please all’ election manifesto today that has sops for virtually every segment of society.
The BJD election manifesto released by party supremo Naveen Patnaik at the party headquarters here for a change has a total of 21 promises in all – perhaps one for every Lok Sabha constituency in the state or, alternatively, one for every segment of the society.
Speaking in his customary broken Odia reading out of a prepared text, the chief minister announced that all kutcha houses in the state would be converted to pucca ones and all village roads turned to concrete roads if his party is voted to power again. A Shelter Security Mission will monitor all these activities, it said.
The manifesto talks about launching a Chief Minister’s Sadak Yojana to provide connectivity to all villages having a population of 100 and less which cannot be covered under any other existing scheme.
It also promised universal health insurance and a Food Security Act, notwithstanding a similar enactment by the Centre.
In tune with its new found live for the farmers, the party has promised to create an additional irrigation potential of more than 10 lakh hectares in the state in the next five years and setting up of a second Agriculture University in the KBK region. It also promised to reduce the rate of interest on agricultural loans and loans to SHGs from 2% to 1% in the next one year.
As part of its efforts to refurbish its credentials on the employment generation front, the party has promised to set up a Chief Minister’s Employment Generation Scheme under which a minimum of 150 youths from each Gram Panchayat will be imparted necessary skill training besides loan and subsidy linkage.
In order to attract the youth and students ahead of the elections, Patnaik said every block would have a model public school and high schools in panchayats would be provided with requisite infrastructure.
“Girl students will be provided with an interest subsidy of 6% and boy students an interest subsidy of 4% on the education loan sanctioned by banks for their technical and professional education. Besides, employment melas will be organised in every district,” said the chief minister.
Targeting the minority group, he said a large number of teachers will be recruited for Telugu, Bengali and Urdu languages to spread these minority languages.
The party will establish a Slum Rehabilitation Board and form an Urban Slum Rehabilitation Policy to protect the interests of the slum dwellers. All street vendors in the state will be registered, the manifesto said.
It also said that a separate welfare board will be constituted for unorganised workers. In order to pacify the anger of land losers following industries, the party has promised that the state government will make it mandatory for the industries to provide shares to GPs and land losers.
Bringing the special category status issue to the fore, the manifesto said it would intensify its agitation for the special tag and increase of mineral royalty till the legitimate demands of the state are met.
Patnaik tried to strike an emotional chord with the people of western Odisha and declared that his party, if voted to power again, will pressurize the Central government for inclusion of Koshali in the eighth schedule of the Constitution.