1 job per family, implementation of CAA, focus on social schemes in BJP manifesto for Bengal polls

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(Eds: Adding details, TMC reax) Kolkata, Mar 21 (PTI) The BJP on Sunday unveiled its manifesto for the West Bengal elections, promising to build a 'Sonar Bangla' by providing employment, strengthening social security schemes and vowing to clear the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act in the first cabinet meeting of the new government.

Releasing the 'Sonar Bangla Sonkolpo Potro' at EZCC in Salt Lake, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that BJP will ensure the implementation of the Ayushman Bharat healthcare scheme and the PM-Kisan programme in the state, besides giving at least one job per family.

Assuring to provide arrears of Rs 18,000 to 75 lakh farmers of the state under PM-Kisan, the BJP promised Rs 10,000 per year for them, if voted to power, with Rs 6,000 being contributed by the Centre and the rest by the state.

The party also announced a Rs 5,000 crore intervention fund to assure farmers' economic security, besides accidental insurance worth Rs 3 lakh for small farmers and fishermen.

In the manifesto, the BJP promised a Sonar Bangla fund worth Rs 11,000 crore to promote art, literature and other such sectors, and a Rabindranath Tagore Prize on the lines of the Nobel Prize.

The party also promised a Satyajit Ray Award on the lines of Academy Award and take the Kolkata International Film Festival few notches higher.

The BJP promised to implement the seventh pay commission for state government employees and 33 per cent reservation for women in state government jobs.

Promising to act tough on infiltration, the BJP promised 'strictest border security'.

The party also promised free KG to PG education for all women and free travel for them in public transport.

It pledged to build new AIIMS hospitals in North Bengal, Jungle Mahal and Sunderban regions, besides toilets and clean drinking water for every family.

Shah said that when the BJP forms the government in West Bengal, people would not have to go to court for organising Durga Puja and would not be subjected to baton- charge by police for holding Saraswati Puja.

He promised transforming the Durga Puja festival in Kolkata into an international tourist attraction.

'Bengal has turned into one of the most unsafe states for women. Inaction for years has broken the dreams of the youth and has stopped the flow of employment. In the last 10 years, TMC's misgovernance has started a dark chapter in Bengal's history,' he alleged.

In the poll manifesto, the party also promised a Rs 20,000 crore Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar Fund for the infrastructure development of schools, and five universities at par with IITs and IIMs.

The party said that to transform Kolkata into an international city, it will set up a Kolkata Development Fund worth Rs 22,000 crore and also ensure that the metropolis becomes a UNESCO Heritage City.

The party said that Kolkata will be established as a center for financial services, and promised free electricity upto 200 units for domestic consumption in the city.

The BJP further promied to extend Kolkata Metro services to Serampore, Dhulagarh and Kalyani.

'We have decided that we will clear the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA in the first cabinet meeting itself, besides approving the Ayushman Bharat scheme for the benefit of the poor,' Shah said.

The Centre is yet to frame the rules for implementing the CAA, which has faced strong opposition from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who took to the streets against the law in December 2019.

Shah also announced, 'The refugee families living here for 70 years will be granted citizenship. Every refugee family will be given Rs 10,000 annually for five years through direct benefit transfer (DBT).' He said that his party would work towards building a safe Bengal, an 'appeasement-free Bengal' and an infiltration-free state, if voted to power.

'We will bring back the Bengal that made the entire nation proud,' Shah said.

'You have given time to Congress, over 30 years to Communists and ten years to TMC. Give us five years to build a Sonar Bangla,' he said, urging the people to vote for the BJP.

If voted to power, the BJP would set up a special task force to look into corruption charges regarding Amphan relief, sand mining and illegal coal mining, Shah said.

The party will put an end to institutionalisation of corruption, criminalisation of politics and politicisation of administration, the senior BJP leader said.

Allocating Rs 1,000 crore for promoting tourism, the manifesto said nine tourist circuits will be developed in the state.

'Don't worry about the funding for these projects, it will cost not more than 15 per cent of the state budget,' Shah claimed.

The BJP also promised to raise the daily wage of tea garden workers to Rs 350, and a monthly pension of Rs 3,000 to Matua Dalpatis.

The party said 'Annapurna Canteen' will be set up across the state to provide subsidised cooked food three times a day at Rs 5 per meal, besides subsidised ration will be provided through PDS -- rice or wheat at Rs 1 per kg, dal at Rs 30 per kg, salt at Rs 3 per kg and sugar at Rs 5 per kg.

Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee criticised the promises, calling it a 'jumla-laden manifesto'.

'A party that cannot find sufficient candidates for all 294 seats in Bengal is now faltering to find local leadership for such key events,' he said, taking a dig at the BJP as Shah released the manifesto.

TMC MP Saugata Roy said many promises in the manifesto were 'poor copies' of the announcements made by the TMC.

'They have copied our already popular Maa Canteen which gives the public nutritious lunch at Rs 5. Even the sops for girl students is derived from our internationally acclaimed projects,' he claimed.

'Unlike Mamata Banerjee, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah don't follow up on their promises. And all said and done there is no possibility of BJP coming to power in Bengal,' Roy added, questioning the party over attacks on women in UP where it has a government.

On the Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar Fund announcement, he said, 'No one has forgotten the incident of vandalising the bust of social reformer in 2019.' CPI(M) leader Md Salim also criticised the manifesto, saying the promises made are nothing but 'lies'. PTI BSM SUS SOM SOM