Bangalore: Opposition Congress on Wednesday released its manifesto for the May 5 Karnataka assembly elections, promising 30 kg of rice for Re.1 per kg to BPL families, loan waiver to farmers and laptops for college students.
Admitting that the party was late in releasing its manifesto, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president D. Parameshwara said the Congress was committed to implementing the promises if elected to power in the 225-seat assembly, to which one member is nominated by the governor as a representative of the Anglo-Indian community.
"Our manifesto is a solemn commitment to the people of Karnataka for time-bound implementation and not mere promises like many other political parties make," Parameshwara said, in the presence of central and state leaders, including cabinet ministers from the state at the centre.
Releasing the manifesto, the party's central leader and Defence Minister A.K. Antony said Congress president Sonia Gandhi had set up a high-powered committee to see that the assurances made in the manifesto were made good, in a time-bound manner.
"We take this manifesto very seriously as it gives us an opportunity to serve the people by regaining power to restore the glory of the state. We will provide a stable government and ensure peace and harmony during our tenure," Antony told reporters.
Noting that the election was very crucial for the people of the state, Antony said Karnataka had become a model state because of the far-sighted policies of Congress governments in the past.
"Everybody used to look up to Karnataka as a model state as it was progressive and prosperous when our party was in power. Unfortunately, during the last few years due to change of government from Congress to other parties, socio-economic development came to a standstill and the state stagnated," Antony lamented.
Asserting that the party would provide a clean and efficient administration if elected to power, Antony said corruption at any level would not be tolerated and strong action would be taken against the corrupt.
"I can assure the people that when we come to power, we will provide a clean, corruption-free and development-oriented government with inclusive growth to empower the poor, backward, minorities and Dalits," Antony reiterated.
With around 65 percent of the people dwelling in rural areas, the party's manifesto has given prime importance to the welfare of farmers, farm labour, artisans, women and less privileged communities.
"Our farmer-friendly programmes include 75 percent subsidy for irrigation pump sets powered by solar energy and 100 percent subsidy for drip irrigation; interest-free soft loans to farmers up to Rs.2,00,000 and with three percent interest to Rs.5 lakh and Rs.4 subsidy per litre of milk to benefit 4.5 million farmers across the state," Parameshwara pointed out.
The manifesto also promises to provide free laptops or digital notepads to all students of the two-year pre-university course (PUC); it also promises to start teaching schoolchildren English as a subject from standard one, and to reduce the income limit for admission to private schools under the Right to Education Act to Rs.1.5 lakh per annum.
Among the party leaders who were present on the occasion were Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Veerappa Moily, Union Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge and Union Minister of State for Micro, Medium and Small Enterprise (MSME) K.H. Muniyappa, who all hail from the state.
Absence of the former central and state minister S.M. Krishna was, however, keenly felt by the party's leaders and cadre.