Jaipur: Both Congress and BJP have released their manifestos for the upcoming Rajasthan assembly polls, declaring the promises they hope to fulfil in the next five years if they come to power.
Congress has termed BJP’s manifesto a ‘chhalava-patra’ (document of deceit) and the latter has accused the former of ‘copying’ its manifesto. While the documents from both the parties are full of ‘good things,’ here’s a look at how different or similar the parties are.
To cash in on agrarian distress, both the Congress and BJP have taken care of key demands of farmers, including minimum support price (MSP), concession on electricity and water for irrigation among many others.
Congress, in its manifesto titled ‘Jan Ghoshna Patra,’ has promised loan waivers within ten days of coming to power. However, there is no clarity on the type of loans and farmers that would be taken under this. It has also pledged to take the farm equipment out of the ambit of Goods and Services Tax (GST), introduce farmers’ pension, firmly implement MSP and improve the system of estimation of crop losses, making it more practical.
In line with Modi’s promise to double farmers’ income further, BJP, in its ‘Rajasthan Gaurav Sankalp’ has proposed to set up a rural start-up fund worth Rs 250 crore. Cooperative farm loans worth Rs 1 lakh crore are aimed to be disbursed in the next five years.
Both the parties have provided for protection from the menace of cattle. It may be noted that reports of stray cattle damaging farmers’ crop emerged after the Modi government banned cattle trade in 2017.
Gaushala and gauraksha find a place
Both the parties have paid close attention to cows. While the Congress has promised to increase the subsidy currently allotted for gaushalas under the present government, BJP proposed that other gaushalas in the state would be operated in collaboration with the Akshaya Patra Foundation. Additional gau raksha chowkis have been promised in Mewat region of Rajasthan, infamous for numerous incidents of lynching led by cow vigilantes.
While the Congress has promised camel protection, the BJP has relaxed this a bit by allowing the sale of male camels out of state, as per permission. However, it will have to be ensured that this provision doesn’t give birth to camel vigilante groups.
Sanskar and Sanskrit
Both the Congress and BJP have put emphasis on Sanskrit and Vedic education in their manifestos. Congress has promised that a Vedic studies board would be constituted and Sanskrit education and language would be promoted.
BJP has promised free undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Sanskrit education and setting up of a Vedic education board. It has also mentioned that land would be given at concessional rates to those educational institutes that give education and ‘sanskars’ as per the Indian culture.
The manifesto reads that a chapter on family awakening would be included in the syllabus of secondary education. During its last tenure, Raje government had made significant changes in the textbooks making them ‘Indian culture’ friendly.
Congress has provided for free education of girls but it remains to be seen whether the move would include the option of studying in private schools as well. It has also promised to re-open the 20,000 schools closed by the present BJP government. The Ambedkar Law University and Haridev Joshi Journalism University, made under the previous Congress government but were stalled by the current dispensation, would be re-started.
Both the national political parties have included one important point regarding regulatory authority for private education institutes and coaching centres. In the past few years, the private education sector that serves a large chunk of students has hiked the fees inconsiderately.
Reservation and development in the name of Ambedkar
Both the parties have tried to woo the tribal communities by promising them reservation. Congress has promised to get a legal nod to its bill that provides for 5% reservation to Gurjar, Raika, nomads and Gadia Lohar communities. It has also pledged that steps would be taken to implement the proposal that the previous Congress government has sent to the Central government for giving 14% reservation on economic basis.
BJP has promised to recommend tribal affairs ministry to include ‘Meena’ in the Scheduled Tribe category. In the name of Ambedkar, a pilgrimage fund, national tourist spot, e-library at Ambedkar community halls and a chair at government universities are provisioned. It has also mentioned that nomadic tribes would get official documents like voter ID, Aadhaar card, caste certificate easily.
Congress has taken women empowerment lightly
Congress party has been quite vocal about women empowerment. However, its manifesto reflects a lack of will in this direction. It includes routine provisions like 24×7 helpline cells, fast-tracking of serious crimes against women, functional toilets, working women hostel and legal training.
On the other side, BJP’s promises include special scheme for women farmers and homemakers, formation of a district-level cell for army recruitment of women, reserved dairy in the public distribution system, up to Rs 1 lakh economic support for daughters’ marriage to the families whose annual income is less than Rs 6 lakh, focus group for women working in the unorganised sector, banks for women near slum areas, anganwadi centres near border areas and CCTV and complaint box facilities in shelter homes. BJP has also promised to give reservation to women in state students’ union elections.
Muslims go missing, only named to be thrown out
BJP has gone completely silent on Muslims upliftment. Even the Congress manifesto seems reluctant to cater to the community. The only provision it has is for computer education in madrassas. Congress, like BJP, has given more focus to Sanskrit education, sidelining Urdu.
However, BJP has promised that arrangements would be made to identify Bangladeshis and Rohingya Muslims residing in the state and send them out of the country.
Universal health insurance versus free medicines
BJP has promised universal health insurance which means the citizens residing in Rajasthan can avail the health insurance facility. Earlier, it was made available through state Bhamashah Cards issued only for the native citizens of Rajasthan. It has also sought for Yoga board and compulsory yoga in educational institutes.
Congress has assured that right to health would be given a legal identity. It has provisioned for free medicines and treatment in this direction. Both the parties have promised to fill up the vacancies in the sector.
Big move: Contractual workers to be absorbed in the government sector
Congress has tapped an important issue regarding regularising the contractual workers in the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and National Urban Health Mission (NUHM) department. Noticeably, these health workers had waved black flags in Modi’s Jhunjhunu rally against Raje in March this year. In contrast, BJP has only provisioned contractual workers to have bonus points in recruitment on the basis of experience.
While Congress has provided for monthly unemployment allowance of Rs 3,500, BJP has made it Rs 5,000 for unemployed youth above 21 years of age. However, as per the existing conditions, the unemployed youth needs to be at least a graduate before availing this allowance. And the allowance is provided only for two years, even if they remain unemployment beyond this period.
In its manifesto, BJP has set out the target of providing 80 lakh jobs in the public and private sectors. However, Congress hasn’t included any such number. Both the parties have promised to align the professional skill development syllabus as per industries standards and requirement.
BJP stands for easy mining and industrial land conversation rules
Congress has promised to simplify GST in Rajasthan and cancel the tax on items traditionally made in the state. It has also pledged restoration of its ambitious Barmer refinery project.
On the other hand, BJP has proposed that regulations in the mining industry would be further simplified. Under ‘Make in Rajasthan’, local industries are promised to get a boost. It has also promised to facilitate the industrial land conversion, by making the process for bringing 5 hectares rain-fed land and 2.5 hectares irrigated land to industrial use simpler.
Congress scraps minimum education qualification in panchayats
In its manifesto, the Congress party has promised removal of the minimum education eligibility criteria to contest in the Panchayati Raj elections. The incumbent BJP government had enacted a law that made it compulsory for candidates contesting zila parishad and panchayat samiti polls to have passed Class 10 and those contesting sarpanch elections to have passed Class 7.
National Memorial of Gorakhnath
To please the Nath sect in Rajasthan, the BJP, in its manifesto, has promised that the word ‘Gorakh dhanda’ would be banned and its use will be made a punishable offence as it hurts the sentiments of the followers of saint Gorakhnath. It has further proposed to include saint Gorakhnath in the books of Rajasthan state textbook board and to teach students about its contribution in yoga. It has also promised to build a national memorial for him and restore monasteries of the Nath sect.