The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), facing anti-incumbency in Rajasthan on account of agrarian distress and lack of jobs, on Tuesday released a manifesto where it committed to creating 30,000 government jobs each year and disburse cooperative bank farm loans worth Rs 1 trillion in the next five years.
Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar released the manifesto in Jaipur. Raje said her government fulfilled 630 of the 665 promises made in the party’s 2013 manifesto for the state.
The manifesto detailed the BJP government’s “achievements”, and furnished a comparison on how poor the budgetary allocations were for key sectors in the previous Congress governments in “the last 50 years”, while the Raje government increased funds manifold during its tenure.
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BJP leaders have run governments for 20 of the last 50 years. BJP’s Bhairon Singh Shekhawat was chief minister of the state for over 10 years — with stints from 1977-80 (erstwhile Janata Party), 1990-92 and 1993-98. Raje has been chief minister for nearly 10 years, with stints from 2003-08 and 2013-18.
The Congress and other opposition parties have criticised the Raje government for its alleged failures to create jobs and rein in farm distress.
The Raje government has faced farmer protests and frequent strikes by government servants. Rajasthan has not returned an incumbent government since 1993, and opinion polls have predicted a similar outcome this time. Rajasthan goes to polls on December 7.
The manifesto has sought to reach out to youths, farmers and has sops for government servants (see box). The BJP manifesto has claimed Raje government waived off farm loans of 2.93 million farmers worth Rs 84 billion. It said the government spent Rs 50 billion to procure the rabi crop of 433,000 farmers at minimum support price, and gave Rs 330 billion worth of electricity grant to farmers.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi has promised a complete waiver of farm loans if his party forms a government in Rajasthan. The Congress has also made a similar promise for Madhya Pradesh, which goes to polls on Wednesday.
On poll eve, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan termed the Congress promise a "gimmick". The BJP leader dismissed reports that farmers are holding back their paddy produce to reap the benefit of debt write off promised by the Congress in its manifesto and said procurement has been slow as harvesting began late in the state.
The manifesto said the next BJP government would recommend that the Centre includes ‘Meena’, along with ‘Mina’, in the list of Scheduled Tribes (ST). The party said it would set up additional check posts to prevent cow smuggling in the Mewat region.
Other promises of the BJP for Rajasthan are creation of Rs 2.5 billion fund to encourage rural start-ups, improving irrigation and more funds for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.