Union Home Minister and senior BJP leader Amit Shah while releasing BJP’s ‘Sankalp Patra’ (election manifesto) for the upcoming West Bengal Assembly polls on Sunday promised 33 per cent quota for women in government jobs, various task forces against corruption and Rs 11,000 crore ‘Sonar Bangla’ fund.
The manifesto broadly covered all the areas from health care, education, rural development, good governance, employment, Bengal’s culture, investments but it mainly hovered around empowering the women, youths and the farmers in the state besides elaborate plans on ‘Sonar Bangla’.
He said, “This is not just ‘goshana patra’ (announcement letter) but this is our ‘sankalp’ (pledge). The foundation of our ‘sankalp patra’ is to make ‘Sonar Bangla’. We are committed to ensure ‘parivartan’ (change) to bring back the lost glory of Bengal. We have always heard that – ‘what Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow’. We have to take inspiration from this and move forward together. We have to work together to make Bengal self-reliant. West Bengal should take a lead by reviving its culture. We will revive the lost glory of Bengal.”
While elaborating more about BJP’s manifesto, he said, “BJP promised to provide free and quality education to all female students from KG to PG through a corpus of Rs 500 crores to provide financial assistance to meritorious female students pursuing higher education in private institutions.”
The party will launch ‘Balika-Alo Yojna’ under which a bond of Rs 50,000 will be issued to each family from the ST, SC, OBC and economically weaker sections on the birth of a girl child. Under this scheme, girls will receive periodic financial assistance of Rs 3000 (for class 6), Rs 5000 (for class 9), Rs 7000 (for class 11) and Rs 7000 (for class 12).
Not the least, girl child after attaining the age of 18 years, unmarried girls who have completed education up to Class 12 will be given Rs 2 Lakhs.
Shah also promised to launch ‘Ghore Lokhi Yojana’ under which a fixed deposit of Rs 1 lakh will be given to women from the ST, SC, OBC and economically weaker sections above the age of 18 years at the time of their marriage besides providing free public transport for all women.
If comes to power, BJP also decided to form nine women-only Police battalions named Shailputri, Brahamacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandmata, Katyayani, Kaalratri, Mahagauri, Shiddhidatri aer Maa Durga.
The women centric manifesto also says about forming three women-only Matangini Hazra battalions under the State Reserve Police Force.
Shah said, “We will establish all-women Pritilata Waddedar squads in each district to protect females from the menace of eve-teasing. We will establish ‘Mohila Shohayota Centers’ at each sub-division for rehabilitation and counselling of sexual assault victims.”
With a corpus of Rs 100 crores, BJP also promised to establish ‘Bina Das Mohila Surokkha Task Force under the CMO to tackle the issues of women trafficking to help in victim rehabilitation.
“We will ensure time bound completion of investigation in cases of crimes against women. We will establish fast-track courts at every sub-division to expedite the resolution of women’s safety related cases and POCSO. We will enact legislation to sentence perpetrators of heinous crimes such as acid attack, human trafficking and forced slavery to capital punishment,” Shah said.
“Launch of ‘Mission Atmonirbhar Mohila’ with the corpus of Rs 5,000 Crores to help women become economically independent. For widows, there will be ‘Bidhoba Surokkha Yojana’ to provide a monthly pension of Rs 3000,” BJP’s manifesto reads.
Under the Stand up India scheme, BJP will set up ‘Atmonirbhor Mohila Cell’ to provide a financial subsidy of up to 15 per cent of the project cost to women entrepreneurs under the Stand Up India Scheme.
Shah said, “We will implement PM Kisan Samman Nidhi with increased financial assistance of Rs 10,000 per year to each of the 75 lakh farmers in the first cabinet meeting. We will also release a one-time arrear of Rs 18000 in the first cabinet meeting, which has been denied to each of the 75 lakh farmers due to the non-implementation of PM Kisan Samman Nidhi in the past three years.”
“We will introduce ‘Krishok Surokkha Yojana’ to provide financial assistance of Rs 4000 per year to all landless farmers and sharecroppers,” he added.
On ‘Krishok Surokkha Udyog Scheme’, he said, “We will provide a corpus of Rs 200 crores to provide interest-free loans of up to Rs 25 lakhs to FPOs for setting up agri-processing units. We will also ensure that all interested farmers receive pensions benefits of Rs 3000 per months under the PM Kisan Maandhan Yojna beside providing Rs 3000 per month pension to farmers who are above the age of 60 years.”
Shah also promised to provide free education to the children of small and marginal farmers as well as landless farmers from KG till graduation.
To provide assistant during coastal mishap, there will be accidental insurance cover of up to Rs 3 lakhs under the ‘Krishok Surokkha Durghotona Bima Yojna’ for all small, marginal and landless farmers and ‘Krishok Surokkha Kosh’ with a corpus of Rs 500 crores to provide emergency relief to farmers affected by natural disasters.
“We have also taken a significant decision to release all pending crop loss compensation of farmers who were affected by Amphan, Bulbul and Aila and Kisan Credit Cards will be upgraded to RuPay Cards for ease of usage at various outlets,” Shah said.
Other important points mentioned in the manifesto are: A corpus of Rs 5000 crores to ensure every grain of crop produced is procured at the right price and ‘Krishok Surokkha MSP Task Force’ under the CMO to address all MSP and procurement related issues through prompt complaint resolution.
Efforts will be given to ensure 50 per cent increase in the total irrigated area in the state within the next five years and minimum 8 hours of free and uninterrupted electricity to farmers for agricultural use.
“We will constitute a Rs 20,000 crores ‘Krishok Surokkha Agricultural Infrastructure Fund’ to develop a holistic agri-infrastructure of sorting and grading units, cold chains and warehouses, primary processing centres, ripening chambers and pack houses,” he said.
To empower the fishermen, the manifesto promises to introduce ‘Jele Surokkha Yojana’ to provide financial assistance of Rs 6000 per year to all the fishermen and to constitute ‘Jele Surokkha Fishing Infrastructure Fund’ with a corpus of Rs 2,000 crores to develop fishing related infrastructure for both sea-based and inland fisheries and interest free loans of up to Rs 25 lakhs to all fisherman for setting up new fishing based industrial units.
On white revolution, Shah promised to ensure 100 per cent protection of cows from all kinds of smuggling activities by keeping a strict check. We will make West Bengal the leasing milk producer in the country with a corpus of Rs 1000 crores.”
A ‘Mulberry Silk Research and tTraining Centre’ at Murshidabad to provide technological support to silk rearing is also mentioned in the manifesto.
“We will implement ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (Ayushman Bharat) to provide every family with insurance coverage of up to Rs 5 lakhs. There will be three AIIMS in North Bengal, Sundarbans and Jangalmahal to ensure availability of the best healthcare services. There will be ‘Kadambini Ganguly Health Infrastructure Fund’ with a corpus of Rs 10,000 crores to ensure that every district has a government medical college along with the district hospital and block health care attached with ‘Jan Aushadi Kendra’. We will also increase the fixed monthly honorarium of ASHA workers from Rs 4500 to Rs 6000 in order to recognise their efforts as the rural frontline workforce and free digital tablets to ASHA workers to aid their work,” he said.
“There will be a ‘One Nation One Health ID Card’ to integrate and digitize medical health records,” the Union Home Minister added.
On right to education, the manifesto promises a Rs 500 crores ‘Shohoj Path Programme’ to provide holistic educational assistance (free books, bags, uniforms, bicycle on passing Class 5 and digital tablets after passing class nine) to every student from the SC, ST and economical weaker sections and female students from kindergarten.”
A Rs 20,000 crores ‘Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar Fund’ to revamp the educational infrastructure in all the schools and Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay Fund with a corpus of Rs 10,000 crore to establish 100 new government colleges and five multidisciplinary education and research universities at par with the IITs and IIMs.
On the employment front, BJP has promised at least one member in every family of the state and Common Eligibility Test for all state government jobs.
Highlighting BJP’s plans to ensure good governance in Bengal, its manifesto reads, “We depoliticised the administration. Jobs will also be provided on the basis of merit, irrespective of religious considerations or political favouritism. It also pledged to remove political posting and favouritism in the police force. We will also enact the West Bengal Whistleblower Act to protect those who expose corruption.”
While accusing the TMC government for their corrupt practices, Shah said, “The existing anti-corruption bureau in the state will be empowered and it will be monitored by a director general ranked police officer. There will be a West Bengal Whistleblower Act to protect those who expose corruption. Multiple task forces to investigate various corruption cases like sand, coal and cow smuggling mafias.”
“There will be a ‘Sonar Bangla Economic Revival Task Force which will formulate a new investment and industrial policy with a focus to promote ‘Make in Bengal’ and to promote the state as the most preferred destination for investments in the country. BJP has promised to make West Bengal among top three states in the country in terms of ease of doing business,” he added.
Manifesto also promised to ensure clean drinking water to each household in Bengal by 2024 at a cost of Rs 10,000 crores, initiative will be taken to develop Malda, Balurghat and Cooch Behar airports under the Udan Scheme, Bagdogra Airport as a full-edged International Airport.
“We will institutionalise a Tagore Prize along the lines of the Nobel Prize to recognise and reward excellence in the fields of Maths, Science, Literature and Public service globally. We will institutionalise a Satyajit Ray Award along the lines of Oscars (Academy Awards) to recognise and reward excellence in all aspects of filmmaking globally. We will set up a Sonar Bangla Fund with a corpus of Rs 11,000 crores to make West Bengal the cultural capital of India. We will also establish Gurudev Centre for Cultural Excellence in all state capitals and at selected destinations overseas as an extension of the Indian Embassy to Promote Bangla culture, dance, music, literature and all other forms,” he said while adding Rs 50 crores fund to develop Shantiniketan as the hub of cultural studies in India.