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As BJP Counters AAP, Cong ‘Revadi’ Doles With UCC And Olympics Pitch, Gujarati Voter Is Spoiled For Choices

A unified civil code and an anti-radicalization cell for Gujarat plus a generous dose of Hindutva, a promise of a mega-development cum welfare plan by the BJP; benefits such as old pension plan, free power and congressional unemployment benefits; and additional incentives from the Aam Aadmi Party, such as an allowance for all women – the Gujarati voter is spoiled for choice this election.

The BJP unveiled its ‘Sankalp for Agresar Gujarat’ manifesto for Gujarat on Saturday, days after the Congress and AAP did the same to tempt voters in their favour. While both AAP and Congress have pledged liberal doles the BJP has attacked as “restarted politics”, the BJP manifesto has offered a doubling of free health insurance for Gujaratis, in addition to appealing to the majority vote bank by promising the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code in Gujarat, as well as an anti-radicalization cell “to identify and eliminate potential threats, and sleeper cells of the terrorist organizations and anti-Indian forces”.

This comes a day after Union Home Minister Amit Shah said those who caused trouble in Gujarat in 2002 were “taught a lesson” by the BJP government and Gujarat has been peaceful ever since. The BJP manifesto also focused a lot on the BJP’s development agenda, such as establishing new seafood parks, investing Rs 10,000 crore in an agricultural fund and bringing new hospitals, including two AIIMS, to Gujarat. It has also promised Gujarati asmita, such as a bid for the 2036 Olympics.

Pursuing AAP’s pledge to revolutionize education and medical treatment in Gujarat in the government sector, the BJP has pledged to convert 20,000 government schools into Schools of Excellence in the next five years with a budget of Rs. Rs 10,000 crore as well as doubling the annual cap under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (Ayushman Bharat) from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh per family and provide free medical treatment plus the launch of the Mukhyamantri Free Diagnostic Scheme with a corpus of Rs 110 crore to provide free low cost diagnostic services in all government health institutions.

What Congress and AAP promised

The congress manifesto in Gujarat was similar to the manifesto in Himachal – it provides for Gujaratis 10 lakh jobs, implementation of the old pension scheme, 300 units of free power, Rs 500 per LPG cylinder, commission for MSP of each crop, free education, a unemployment benefit of Rs 3000 per month, loan forgiveness up to Rs 3 lakh and said it will rename Narendra Modi cricket stadium to Sardar Patel.

The Aam Aadmi went one step ahead, with its senior leader Raghav Chadha saying that each Gujarat family would earn Rs 30,000 per month through the many benefits offered by the party. This included free education until after graduation, free medical services, unemployment benefit of Rs 3,000 per month, free electricity. Rs 1,000 per month in aid to every woman, Rs 3,000 to the unemployed, free power up to 300 units, free water supply for farmers and the old pension scheme.

BJP’s focus on women

The BJP has tried to deliver on some of the promises made by AAP and Congress, but has not been promised the old pension scheme or unemployment benefits or specific cash benefits for women as the party’s position was that such’restarted politics’ is not good for the fiscal health of the government.

However, the BJP has promised 20 lakh jobs (more than what has been promised by Congress and AAP) and is increasing free health insurance to Rs 10 lakh per family every year.

The BJP’s focus was also on the Hindutva shelf, promising a major revamp of Hindu religious sites in the state. “We will build a Devbhumi Dwarka Corridor to establish it as the largest spiritual center in Western India, comprising the world’s tallest Shree Krishna statue, a 3D immersive Bhagwat Gita experience zone and a viewing gallery for the lost city of Dwarka. We will invest Rs 1,000 crore to renovate, expand and promote temples, following the successful transformation model of Somnath, Ambaji and Pavagadh,” says the BJP manifesto.

There is also a strong focus on female voters, who have previously widely supported the BJP. The party says it will provide free quality education to all female students from KG to PG, start Sharda Mehta Yojana to provide free two-wheelers (electric scooters) to deserving female students from financially weak households, free bus travel to senior females in the state and creating more than 1 lakh government jobs for women in the next five years.

The focus is also on BJP development projects as the party has won elections in the past on its pitch that Gujarat was on track to become the most developed state in the country under Narendra Modi as the CM. It has pledged to make Gujarat a $1 trillion economy, invest Rs 25,000 crore to expand the existing irrigation network, Rs 500 crore for gaushalas, a tribal cultural circuit to connect Pal Dadhvaav and the Statue of Unity to Shabari Dham , Rs 5 lakh crore to attract foreign investment and make Gujarat India’s defense and aviation manufacturing hub.

The BJP has also promised a unique 3,000 km Parikrama trail encircling the entire state with 4 to 6 lane roads/highways through the construction of a South Eastern Peripheral Highway and North Western Peripheral Highway, the development of a Saurashtra Express Highway Grid to ensure seamless connectivity between major economic hubs and national highways and said the new BJP government is spending Rs 25,000 crore under the Gujarat Urban Development Mission to transform the urban landscape with a focus on decongesting the existing cities.

“We will ensure time-bound completion of Gandhinagar and Surat Metro, and kick-start Saurashtra (Rajkot) and Central Gujarat (Vadodara) first metro rail service,” the BJP said.

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