In a major turnaround, the Congress decided not to press for a separate Vidarbha state by bifurcating Maharashtra. The controversial issue does not find a place in the party manifesto, released on Thursday.
The party, in its manifesto, says it plans to further empower the Vidarbha Statutory Development Board, set up under section 371 (2) of the Constitution, to approve and sanction various development projects in the region.
The Congress, which had severed its ties with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), did not want to rake up the controversial issue, especially after the Lok Sabha poll debacle. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena combine had swept the region, which used to be a Congress stronghold.
The Congress’ move comes after the Shiv Sena went hammer and tongs at the demand for Maharashtra's bifurcation. The BJP and NCP have announced their support to the statehood demand.
The manifesto promised to provide free tablets to below poverty line students (who have at least passed ninth standard), free education to girls and women up to graduation in any of the streams. It proposes to launch an insurance scheme for the common man and set up a government medical college in each district.
To win over denotified and nomadic tribes, the Congress proposes to earmark five per cent budgetary provision for their development.
On the contentious issue of toll collection, the Congress said it would close five toll plazas at Mumbai entry points. The management of flyovers and roads in Mumbai will be entrusted to the Mumbai Corporation.
Former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said the Congress-led government has recently closed down over 43 toll plazas in the state.
Also, the party promises to take up cluster development, which has been approved in island city of Mumbai, in Mumbai suburbs and Thane district. Flats of 500 sq ft will be provided under the Dharavi and BDD redevelopment schemes.
Chavan said a permanent fund of Rs 500 crore will be made for the benefit of drought-pone districts. A separate TV channel titled “Krishi Darshan'' will be launched for the benefit of farmers.
The party promised to provide a soft loan of up to Rs 1 lakh to deserving candidates from Muslim community, under the Bharat Ratna Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana Yojana with a provision of repayment in easy installments.