MUMBAI: Four major parties in Maharashtra have tried to woo voters by announcing populist schemes in their manifestos. While the Congress and the NCP have emphasised on freebies and welfare schemes, the BJP and Shiv Sena have focused on urban development and rural infrastructure.
The Congress has promised to increase the income limit for beneficiaries of the popular health scheme Jeevandayi Arogya Yojna (JAY) from `1.5 lakh to `2.5 lakh. It has also promised police stations for women as well as five percent of the annual budget for the welfare of nomadic tribes and de-notified tribes. The party has come up with an assurance to launch a television channel catering to the needs of farmers.
Also, it has proposed to establish mango and cashew nut boards and provide subsidy to the farmers. Besides, it has promised to set up a permanent `500-crore drought relief fund.
The BJP manifesto promises pensions to farmers and homemakers above 60. With reforms in the transport sector on its mind, the party has said it will encourage water transport in Mumbai and along the Konkan coast. It also has promised easy loans to doctors willing to establish clinics in slums and tribal areas.
The party has also promised hostels at the taluka level for college girls. The saffron party has also said it will build “spiritual dwellings” at every state-run bus stand. The party has promised to abolish the local body tax, which traders have been opposing.
The NCP has promised to raise the income limit for JAY up to `3 lakh. The party manifesto tries to lure youngsters by promising free laptops to the non-creamy layer students who clear higher secondary exams.
To attract the minorities, the NCP has promised to increase the budget for the Maulana Azad Minority Economic Development Corporation to `2,000 crore.
In an attempt to lure urban voters, the NCP has promised air connectivity to all major cities as well as a high-speed railway connecting Mumbai, Nashik and Nagpur.
The party has also proposed a separate industrial cluster for female entrepreneurs. And the Shiv Sena manifesto promises shelters for Mumbai’s famous dabbawalas. Also, it has promised to deposit `25,000 in a fixed deposit account for each girl child upon her birth and to give a four-gm gold mangalsutra at the time of her marriage.
The party has also said it will provide high school students with textbooks on digital memory cards and tablets to reduce the weight of their school bags.
The Sena has promised to develop water transport in Mumbai and to set up an international-standard theme park at the city’s landmark Mahalaxmi Race Course.
Self-sustained industrial towns, gardens in every city, abolishment of the local body tax, promotion of solar energy and a memorial for the late Bal Thackeray are also on the party’s list of promises.
An internal survey carried out by the BJP has concluded that the party till Thursday was in a position to win 115 out of 288 seats.