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Cong promises loan waiver, free power to Haryana farmers; job quotas, free bus rides for women

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: October 11, 2019  | 19:41 IST

(Eds: Adds details) Chandigarh, Oct 11 (PTI) The Congress Friday released its Haryana poll manifesto, promising a farm loan waiver, reservation in private companies for local people and a slew of benefits for women –- including job quotas, pensions and free bus rides. Promises included free power for small farmers, rice and wheat at Rs 2 per kilo for the poor, residential plots for Dalits and an unemployment allowance for college graduates as the opposition party pulled out all stops to revive itself in the state. In a controversial poll promise, the Congress said 75 per cent of jobs in private companies will be reserved for the youth of Haryana. It did not elaborate how this policy would be implemented. The 22-page “sankalp patra” said loans to farmers will be waived “within 24 hours” if the party comes to power after the October 21 assembly polls. Landless farmers will also be covered under the loan write-off. Wooing state government employees, the Congress said its government will increase retirement age from 58 to 60 years. Employees will get pay scales on the Punjab pattern and full implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission with effect from January 1, 2016, state Congress chief Kumar Selja said. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is expected to release its own manifesto on Sunday. Ghulam Nabi Azad, the All India Congress Committee general secretary in charge of the state, said there is special focus in the manifesto on women. The party promised 33 per cent reservation to women in government and private jobs. Apart from this, a Congress government will reserve 50 per cent of the jobs in Panchayati Raj institutions, municipalities, corporations and city councils for them. Women who are widows, disabled or unmarried will get an allowance of Rs 5,100 per month. Pregnant women will get a monthly stipend of Rs 3,100 from the third month of their pregnancy. Women below poverty line will get Rs 2,000 every month for “chulha kharch”, an allowance meant to offset the “high price” of cooking gas cylinders. There will also be a 50 per cent rebate on house tax if the property is owned by a woman, the Congress said in the manifesto released here. Women will also ride free in Haryana Roadways buses. Farmers who own up to two acres of land will get free electricity, it said. The first 300 units of power will also be free for all domestic users, and rates halved for consumption above it. Unemployed postgraduates will get an allowance of Rs 10,000 per month and jobless graduates given Rs 7,000 per month, the manifesto said. If voted to power, the Congress government will offer annual scholarships of Rs 12,000 to students from class 1 to 10 and Rs 15,000 for those in classes 11 and 12 if they are from the scheduled caste or from extremely backward classes. A scheduled caste commission and a minorities commission will also be formed, and the “creamy layer” for Other Backward Classes in quotas will be raised to an annual income of above Rs 8 lakh. At present, this is Rs 6 lakh. Dalits will get free 100 square yard plots to build homes, the Congress said. A special probe panel will be formed to inquire into alleged scams during the term of the BJP-led government, Selja said. Expressing concern over drug abuse, Selja said a special task force will be formed to combat the menace. She slammed the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government in the state, blaming it for “rising unemployment, drug abuse, the mining mafia, the transport mafia and the closure of industrial units”. Ghulam Nabi Azad said the Congress is committed to honour its promises. “Unfortunately, there is difference in our party and other political parties -- that we are hero in delivering but zero in publicity,” he said. “But other parties, especially the one running the government at the Centre and in other states at present, are zero in delivering but hero in publicity,” he added, taking a dig at the BJP. The party promised modern equipment to tackle stubble burning and compensation to farmers who dispose of agriculture residue without causing pollution. The manifesto also promised legalising unauthorised colonies and relief from heavy penalties for traffic violations under the new Motor Vehicle Act. On the Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal dispute with neighbouring Punjab, the opposition party promised to make a strong case for the state in the Supreme Court. Former Haryana chief minister and the Congress Legislature Party leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda, manifesto committee chairperson Kiran Choudhary and former railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal were also present when the party released the manifesto. In the current 90-member assembly, the BJP has 48 MLAs and the Congress 17. In this year's Lok Sabha elections, the ruling party won all 10 seats in Haryana. PTI SUN CHS VSD AAR ASH ASH

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