No populist scheme in Congress’ manifesto in Andhra


Hyderabad : Refusing to join the race of populist schemes with the opposition parties, the ruling Congress party in Andhra Pradesh Monday released its election manifesto, pledging to continue the welfare schemes implemented during the last five years.

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Instead of promising any major freebies, the Congress has decided to seek votes on the basis of its “credibility and performance”.

The party, which has already set a goal to build houses for all homeless, promised to make the state free of huts. It promised toilets, electricity supply, gas connection and other basic amenities to every household.

Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, who released the manifesto, told reporters that with the Reliance Industries starting gas production in Krishna Godavari basin and gas connectivity in place over the next four years, the cost of the cooking gas will reduce by half.

Free education from kinder-garden to post-graduation, cooking gas connection and basic amenities to every household, increasing duration of free electricity to farmers and the quantity of Rs.2 a kg rice for poor, are the highlights of the manifesto, which promises no populist schemes like those announced by Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) of actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi.

Chiranjeevi has promised to make a gas cylinder available for Rs.100 against the existing price of Rs.305. He also promised a month’s ration for a poor family for Rs.100. The party has promised free education up to post-graduation for girls and all students belonging to weaker sections.

The TDP has promised a free colour television and a cash dole of Rs.1,000 to Rs.2,000 per month to every poor and middle class family.

Interestingly, the opposition parties have promised to continue the free electricity scheme, which was promised by the Congress in 2004.

“We are promising to continue all development and welfare programs in a more focused and efficient manner in the next five years. During the last five years, we made the common man happy and our goal is to make him even more happy,” said the chief minister, known popularly as YSR.

Listing out schemes like free electricity to farmers, Rs.2 a kg rice, loans at cheap rate of interest, construction of irrigation projects, building of eight million houses for poor, YSR said no other party can even dare to dream of launching and implementing them.

“We are confident that in the matter of credibility, development and welfare, nobody can compete with our government,” he said.

The Congress promised to increase the supply of free electricity to the farmers from seven to nine hours a day from June 1 and hike the quantity of subsidised rice from four to six kg per head for poor families.

While the manifesto is silent on the demand for separate statehood to the Telangana region, YSR reiterated that a committee of the legislature would go in to the concerns and problems related to the demand.