Kolkata: BJP came out with a please-all manifesto for West Bengal polls - catering to all sections, placing special focus on women’s empowerment and giving emphasis to backward sections and ethnic groups and castes. Called ‘Sankalp Patra’ and released by Union home minister Amit Shah, the manifesto takes politics to new lengths and reflects the party’s self-avowed confidence that a regime change in Kolkata is imminent.
The manifesto promises to regularise the citizenship of refugees immediately after assuming office, an assertion which at once tries to convey fidelity to a poll plank which resonates with a significant section of the electorate. “Refugees have been living here since the1970s, and are pained at not having citizenship. We will implement CAA in the first cabinet meeting and provide citizenship to them,” Shah said.
The document also contains a host of schemes for women and girls. Notable among them was a free education scheme, termed “from KG to PG”, and special bonds to SC, ST and OBC families for girls’ welfare. The manifesto also promises to bring Mahishya, Teli and other Hindu OBCs under the ambit of OBC reservation. On the healthcare front, the party proposed three new AIIMS - in north Bengal, Jangalmahal and the Sunderbans. A £1 billion healthcare infrastructure fund was also proposed.
The manifesto promises a Tagore Prize “on the lines of the Nobel Prize”, and a Satyajit Ray Award, “on the lines of Oscar”. If voted to office, the party also promised to keep aside £50 million for Kolkata to get Unesco Heritage City tag. Stressing on a “zero tolerance to infiltration” policy, Shah said a special fund would be created for refugees, from which each family would be provided Rs 10,000 per year after they receive citizenship. A corpus of £10 million was announced for that.
Regarding the “KG to PG” scheme, he said there will be a corpus of £50 million to provide financial assistance to meritorious girls. Apart from a special Rs 50,000 bond for families with a girl child, the manifesto also announced Rs 100,000 to women from the SC, ST, OBC and economically weaker sections at the time of their wedding. Also, the manifesto promised “free public transport” to women and girls.
Apart from establishing specific development boards for the nine Scheduled Tribe communities like Santhals, Oraons, Mundas and Bhumijs, the manifesto also included increased funding to Matua, Rajbangshi, Bauri and the Bagdi development boards. Shah announced a £100 million fund to incentivise weavers, carpenters and tanners. For ST-dominated blocks, Shah announced 200 days’ work under the MGNREGA scheme. The wage for tea garden workers was proposed to be increased to Rs 350 from Rs176 per day at present.
“We will constitute a Sonar Bangla economic revival task force that will formulate new industrial policy to promote Bengal as an investment destination and revive sick industrial units,” Shah said. Assuring to bring Bengal among the top three states in terms of ease of doing business, he said Invest Bangla will be formed on the lines of centrally sponsored Invest India. While all dues of the state government towards MSME units will be cleared, electricity will be provided at Rs 2 per unit for these units. A special corpus of £50 million was also proposed for collateral-free loans to the units.