BJP Gujarat manifesto vows 'doubling' farm income, toilets for all

With just a day to go for the first phase of Assembly elections in Gujarat, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday released its manifesto, with promises including "doubling" the income of farmers and construction of toilets in every household in the rural parts of the state.

On Thursday, Congress president-to-be Rahul Gandhi had said the BJP had shown "unbelievable disrespect" to the people of the state by not yet coming out with its manifesto.

Commentators say releasing the manifesto just a day before elections is in any event strange, as it hardly gives the electorate or analysts time to peruse the document. Conversely, it might also pre-empt any awkward questions about vague promises it may contain, such as ''overall and inclusive'' development of the state.

Unlike the last elections in 2012, this year's manifesto largely revolves around "overall development" and "resolutions" instead of getting into details.

Arun Jaitley, BJP's election in-charge for Gujarat, said while releasing it in Ahmedabad that the manifesto was made keeping in mind the party's resolution to maintain and improve on the 10-per cent growth clocked by the state under BJP rule. The party has been in power in the state for 22 years.

"This 10 per cent growth rate is at a time when no economy in the world is growing at that rate. Even China's growth rate has come down to 6.5 per cent," Jaitley said while releasing the document.

In 2012, the Gujarat BJP, led by then chief minister Narendra Modi, had promised to construct 50 lakh houses in the next five years, which was the key highlight of the manifesto.

The manifesto released today promises to increase the pension for widows at regular intervals. It also says Gujarat will be made free of vector-borne diseases, more generic medicine shops will be opened and mobile clinics and laboratories will be introduced.

Without specifying a timeframe or giving numbers, the BJP manifesto says that to convert villages into "smart villages", "pucca houses for poor families" would be constructed. For urban centres, the BJP has promised timely implementation of Smart City projects and construction of multi-level parking lots.

Some of the key features of the party's vision document like building five million dwelling units, bringing fields in Saurashtra under irrigation and providing jobs to youth are mostly repeat from the 2012 manifesto of the party.

However, this year the party has promised to build multispecialty hospitals in Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot and extending the medical insurance up to Rs2 lakh to middle class families.

The Congress manifesto, released last Monday, promises a "special category" quota for weaker communities with similar rights enjoyed by OBCs, farm loan waivers, and setting up of "Indira canteens" to provide food for labourers at Rs10.

Gujarat has a total of 182 Assembly seats and the polling will be held in two phases on 9 and 14 December.

Voting in 89 constituencies of Saurashtra and South Gujarat region will be held in the first phase, while the remaining 93 constituencies in central and northern regions go for polls in the second phase on 14 December. Counting is slated for the 18th.