Free power, youth employment: Voters give thumbs up to BJD manifesto

The promise of 100 units free electricity, 2 lakh government jobs in five years and a youth budget of Rs1 lakh crore for 10 years seem to be the biggest draw for voters, particularly the youth.
CM Naveen Patnaik and BJD leader VK Pandian released the poll manifesto
CM Naveen Patnaik and BJD leader VK Pandian released the poll manifesto Photo | Express

BHUBANESWAR: The BJD manifesto which outlines a comprehensive development plan across various sectors has been largely met with optimism and a little skepticism by the people of the state.

The promise of 100 units free electricity, 2 lakh government jobs in five years and a youth budget of Rs1 lakh crore for 10 years seem to be the biggest draw for voters, particularly the youth.

The BJD has assured the voters to provide free electricity for households using up to 100 units and 50 per cent for those using 100 to 150 units. Cuttack-based Dipak Samatarai, a former employee of AIR and DD, lauded the promise of free electricity as a vital step towards uplifting farmers. Samantrai emphasised its far-reaching impact on rural households, saying the provision of 100 free units could significantly alleviate financial burdens of the vast section of people.

A farmer of Nachipura village in Cuttack district, Pankaj Lochan Sahoo agrees. He believes this holds great promise in uplifting rural communities, with an estimated 80 to 90 per cent of households poised to benefit.

With the regional party facing the Opposition BJP attack on ‘Odia Asmita’, there is a larger focus on promotion and preservation of Odia culture, language and heritage in the manifesto. Be it a Rs 1,000-crore heritage development fund to preserve places relevant to Odisha’s heritage and culture or Rs 100-crore for development and promotion of Odia as a classical language and even a centre of excellence at Sambalpur University with a corpus fund of Rs 25 crore for research on Western Odisha languages, the BJD has promised it all.

Member secretary of Institute of Odia Studies and Research Subrat Prusty said these promises point at a renewed commitment of the BJD to promotion and preservation of Odia language, culture and heritage. He, however, emphasised the necessity of experts well-versed in Odia culture to lead institutions and oversee the allocation of funds for language preservation. Prusty called for consistent efforts of the government towards language and literature of the state.

CM Naveen Patnaik and BJD leader VK Pandian released the poll manifesto
Naveen’s guarantees are commitments, says BJD

A large part of the manifesto focuses on youth empowerment. Under the youth budget of Rs 1 lakh crore, the party would create schemes based on suggestions from youth of the state. City-based youth Soumya Ranjan Nayak said the Nabin Odisha Youth budget can have great impact on youth empowerment as it focuses on various youth initiatives aimed at skill development, entrepreneurship, education, and employment.

Another college student Pratik Lugun said the party’s promise to incentivise entrepreneurship among tribal youth can be a game-changer for tapping youth potential. Lugun also said the introduction of a dedicated budget for youth initiatives would create opportunities for innovation and meaningful contributions to society by the youth.

The youths, however, raised concerns about the exclusion of other caste groups from similar benefits, urging for broader inclusivity in government initiatives.

The manifesto also promises better care for the elderly. A retired professor, Ajodhya Prasad Nayak highlighted the manifesto’s promises, including a state-of-the-art resource centre for the elderly, collaborations with the private sector to establish active ageing centres, and the introduction of home nurses to provide personalised care, enhancing seniors’ quality of life. He emphasised the need for proper planning and execution to ensure that these initiatives effectively address the needs of the elderly population.

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