A heated Chhattisgarh election battle is set in motion as Baghel reveals Congress promises and the BJP responds with pledges.
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Congress’ Manifesto in Chhattisgarh Assembly Elections
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister and renowned Congress politician Bhupesh Baghel introduced the party’s manifesto for the 2023 Chhattisgarh assembly elections, dubbed ‘Bharose ka Ghoshna Patra 2023-28.’ Chhattisgarh elections will be contested in two stages on November 7 and 17, with results anticipated on December 3. Baghel’s statement of the Congress’ electoral promises came with several major commitments:
- Waiving Farmers’ debts: The Congress committed to relieving farmers’ financial burdens by waiving their debts, an important measure that aims to ease the agricultural sector’s financial difficulties.
- Caste Census: If elected, the Congress wants to undertake a caste census in the state, as a first step towards gathering vital socioeconomic data that would aid in the formulation of targeted policies.
- Higher Paddy Procurement Prices: The party promised farmers that they would get 3,200 per quintal for paddy procurement, in addition to the input subsidy that is now granted to paddy planters under the Rajiv Gandhi Nyay Yojna.
- Free Education: The manifesto promised free education from kindergarten to postgraduate level, intending to improve access to quality education for everyone.
- Price Increase for Tenu Leaf Collecting: The Congress recommended an increase in the price for Tenu Leaf Collecting, offering 6,000 per normal bag, up from the current 4,000. In addition, leaf collectors would get a 4,000 yearly bonus.
- ‘Mahtari Nyay Yojana’: This initiative will offer a 500 subsidy per cooking gas cylinder to women of all income levels, intending to reduce the financial burden of cooking fuel expenditures on families.
Baghel further emphasised that if Congress held power in the state, all ongoing projects would continue, ensuring the continuation of existing policies and activities.
BJP’s Manifesto in Chhattisgarh Assembly Elections
In reaction to the announcement of the Congress manifesto, the primary challenger in the 2018 elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), published its own set of promises in its platform. The following are the BJP’s important commitments:
- Government Job Creation: The BJP has vowed to fill one lakh empty government jobs in Chhattisgarh Within Two years, signalling a commitment to job creation.
- Subsidised Cooking Gas for Women: Women from low-income households would be eligible for cooking gas cylinders at a subsidised rate of $500, reducing their household expenses.
- Student Travel stipend: Under the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) system, students would get a monthly travel stipend for travelling to college, making higher education more accessible.
- Housing and Water Access: Funds will be allotted for the construction of 18 lakh dwellings under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, with the promise of tap water connections for every household within two years under the ‘Ghar Ghar Nirmal Jal Abhiyan’.
- Agricultural Labour Assistance: The BJP launched the ‘Deendayal Upadhyay Krishi Majdoor Yojana,’ which provides landless agricultural labourers with a $10,000 yearly subsidy.
- Financial aid for Married Women: A ‘Mahtari Vandan Scheme’ was suggested, which would provide married women with $12,000 per year in financial aid.
- Price of Paddy: The ‘Krishi Unnati Scheme’ attempted to acquire 21 quintals per acre of paddy from farmers at 3100 per quintal, to increase agricultural revenue.
Religious and Cultural Tourism: The BJP pledged to take state residents to the Ram temple in Ayodhya, demonstrating its commitment to promoting religious and cultural tourism.
Does it raise criticism?
Surprisingly, the Congress took advantage of the opportunity to criticise the BJP’s manifesto, calling it a “copy-cat” document. The Congress pointed out that the BJP’s promises, such as LPG cylinder subsidies and lower paddy procurement prices, were similar to policies advocated by the Congress in the past. Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh emphasised this stance, noting that those who had previously criticised the Congress’s guarantees as “freebies” were now offering similar guarantees in their manifesto. The Congress used this comparison to argue that the BJP was validating its policies.
The publication of these manifestos, as well as the subsequent political rhetoric, set the stage for a competitive and heated electoral battle in Chhattisgarh. Both parties are competing for voters’ support by making a variety of promises and policies aimed at addressing the state’s socioeconomic challenges and improving the lives of its citizens. When voters in Chhattisgarh cast their ballots in the upcoming assembly elections, they will ultimately decide the fate of these promises.