Kochi: Kerala`s Congress readied itself for the electoral battle ahead, finalising seat sharing arrangements with other partners in the United Democratic Front (UDF) and releasing its manifesto on 25th March that upped the Left offer by announcing 25 kg of rice at Re 1 per kg for below poverty line (BPL) families.
The Congress finally settled issues with the Communist Marxist Party, which was given three seats, and the Socialist Janata Democratic, which will fight in six constituencies in the April 13 elections for the 140-member assembly.
Releasing the manifesto, Congress leader Oommen Chandy announced the decision to give 25 kg rice at Re 1 per kg and the same quantity to other ration card holders at Rs 2 per kg.
The Left government, Chandy said at a press conference, had announced rice at Rs 2 per kg for all ration card holders.
"They got it (the proposal) cleared through the court last week. And till date they have not been able to implement it because no money has been set aside... If at all the scheme goes ahead, it can only be from the new financial year," said Chandy.
Hoping to entice more voters, the Congress manifesto also promises 3.6 million new jobs in the next five years, generating 3,000 MW of power, agricultural loans at three percent, a metro rail project at Kochi and the phased implementation of a master plan for Sabarimala.
Chandy hit out at Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan for being vindictive.
"Never before has any political leader been as vindictive as Achuthanandan when it comes to attacking the opposition... the manner in which Achuthanandan speaks and acts right now is against all political ethics."
Achuthanandan reacted by saying he was not against any individual, only against corruption.
"I always call a spade a spade and that is why I am being seen as if I am against individuals. In the palm oil case being re-probed, Chandy is yet to answer my questions against him," he said, referring to the 1992 import of palm oil from Malaysia at allegedly inflated prices.
The import of 15,000 tonnes of palm oil was undertaken in 1992. The case was registered in 1999, when the Communists, led by EK Nayanar, were in power.
Former chief minister K Karunakaran, Mustafa and bureaucrats PJ Thomas and Jiji Thompson were charged with causing a loss of Rs.2.32 crore to the exchequer by importing oil from Malaysia at an inflated price.