Kolkata: Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee unveiled a "development-oriented" manifesto for the upcoming assembly polls in West Bengal, promising an income scheme for all families, a student credit card and constitution of a task force to examine the inclusion of several communities under the OBC category.
Claiming that her government has reduced poverty in the state by 40 per cent, the manifesto also promised to increase annual financial aid to farmers from Rs 6,000 to Rs10,000. "For the first time, every family in Bengal will be extended a minimum basic income. Under this,16 million general category families will get Rs 500 a month, whereas SC/ST category families will get Rs 1,000. The money will be directly transferred to the woman head of a family," Banerjee said.
A new student credit card scheme will be introduced with a credit limit of Rs10,00,000 and an interest rate of only 4 per cent will be charged, the West Bengal chief minister said. "We will set up 10,00,000 new MSMEs and 2,000 new big industrial units in the next five years," she said. "We shall appoint a Special Task Force to examine and propose OBC status to all the communities which are not recognised as OBCs like Mahishya, Tili, Tamul and Sahas. We will also ask the Government of India to grant ST status to Mahatos," the TMC chief said.
A Special Development Board would be set up for the development of Terai and Dooars region in north Bengal, she said.
Five years ago, returning land to the Singur agitators was among the primary thrust in the TMC manifesto. Now, Mamata pledged a model Nandigram. In March 2016, Mamata had said their “first task” was to “resolve the Singur issue as quickly as possible. Landowners and farmers of Singur will get back their property and dignity - that is our foremost aim,” she had written in the manifesto. Six months later, the land was returned after the Supreme Court verdict. Now, Mamata mentioned a ‘Model Nandigram’.
“Nandigram will be developed into a model town, with better infrastructural facilities, including well-connected roads, 24x7 affordable electricity and piped drinking water supply for all. A new university will be constructed to provide greater access to higher education for the youth,” it read. The manifesto also mentioned that among the five separate health districts set up in West Bengal, one was in Nandigram. Trinamool’s flagship health insurance scheme had found a mention in the 2016 manifesto. The scheme, which kicked off that year, has now reemerged as a universal health insurance scheme. The party’s much-discussed programmes Kanyashree, Sabuj Sathi and Khadya Sathi find mention in the 2016 manifesto. All these programmes were later extended to beneficiaries beyond the targeted bloc.
The 2016 manifesto spoke of Kanyashree Plus, which was later extended to high school and college-going girls. Sabuj Sathi has now been extended to all school students and is not limited to girls. Both the 2016 and 2021 manifestos lay thrust on industry. In 2016, it was said the infrastructure of industrial parks at Panagarh, Goaltore, Vidyasagar and Haringhata would be improved. The latest manifesto said 500,000 additional lowcost housing facilities would be built to reduce slum population from 7% to below 3.6%, and 25,00,000 additional low-cost houses would be built to reduce kutcha houses to less than 1%.