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Self-reliance, farmers to figure in BJP’s Bihar manifesto: Party official

Self-reliance and a thrust on improving production and farm output are likely to be the central theme of the Bharatiya Janata party’s vision document for the election- bound Bihar. Empowerment schemes for the socially and economically backward will also get a fillip said persons aware of the details.

In September the party launched an Atmanirbhar Bihar campaign with an aim to encourage employment avenues in the state amid concerns about rising unemployment brought on by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy.

According to people aware of the details, the party is using Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s development agenda as the main poll plank in the state where it’s partnering with three other parties – JD(U), HAM and VIP – to stake claim to forming the government, the vision document or the poll manifesto will pivot around making Bihar self-reliant.

“The state government was among the first to undertake a survey of the workforce that returned to the state during the lockdown. This was done to ensure skilling, re-skilling and up-skilling can be imparted to make the workers employable or even help them become entrepreneurs. Conditions are being created to help attract investment to the state, help people set up production units and diversify their agricultural produce,” said a senior party functionary.

Even though the party claims that the government will not face a backlash for its response to the migrant workers, some of whom were compelled to walk their way home in the absence of public transport, its former ally the Lok Janshakti Party and the oppositions parties have cited the acute problems faced by the migrants as an illustration of the government’s poor performance.

The theme of self reliance has been a recurring feature in speeches made by senior leaders. Party president JP Nadda described the call for self reliance as a means of using the state’s inherent strengths such as the variety of agricultural produce and horticultural resources as well as human resources to create wealth for the state and its people. He also referred to the campaign as a means of addressing issues of unemployment and the gaps in skilling.

Schemes for the socially and economically backward are also likely to be the focus of the NDA’s vision document. With cases of crime against the socially backward on the rise, the party is making a concerted effort to mitigate the anger among the communities.

To be sure such schemes have been part of the election documents in the past as well. In 2010, the party had promised a commission for the upper caste for suggesting measures for social economic uplift of the economically backward among the upper castes. In the 2015 election, it promised medical facilities to the marginalised, subsidised education loans plots to the landless homes for the homeless by 2022 and colour television sets for Dalits and Mahadalits.

Though the party has not yet announced when the document will be released, the first functionary quoted above said the process will be conducted jointly with the National Democratic Alliance partners. In line with chief minister Nitish Kumar’s Saat Nishchay, the document will have tailored schemes for women, farmers and the youth.

HT had reported in August that a common manifesto will be released by the NDA partners.

As it had done ahead of the 2019 general elections, the party set up suggestions boxes across the state to solicit suggestions from people. “We believe in participatory politics. The document will take into account the suggestions and aspirations of the people of Bihar,” said a second functionary not wishing to be named.

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