Congress offers freebies to Karnataka voters

April 9th, 2008 - 10:32 pm ICT by admin  

Bangalore, April 9 (IANS) The Congress party Wednesday came out with a seven-point agenda, aimed at the farmers and the poor, to woo the Karnataka electorate for the upcoming assembly elections next month. In a bid to outwit the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has wrested the initiative by making similar poll promises, the Congress said it would provide 25 kg of rice at Rs.2 per kg for all green ration-card holders in the state if elected to power.

Families below poverty line (BPL) are eligible for green ration cards issued by the state government.

Among other freebies are one colour television set for all green card holder families, houses for 1.5 million houseless families in five years, and a waiver of all dues of Ashraya (housing scheme for the poor) and Indira Awaz Yojana housing loans.

“The seven-point programme will be the central theme of our party’s election manifesto for the welfare of farmers and the poor. Besides rice at Rs.2 per kg, we will arrange institutional loans at three percent interest rate for farmers, women self-help groups, potters, handloom weavers, fishermen and shepherds,” Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Mallikarjun Kharge told reporters here.

The party has also promised to extend the Yeshaswini health insurance scheme to all green card holder families.

The party has offered to provide Rs.1,200 per month for two years to unemployed youth for skill training programme.

The three-phase elections to the 224-member legislative house are scheduled to be held May 10, 16 and 22.

Congress manifesto committee chairman Jaffer Shariff said the party’s manifesto would be released before a mammoth farmers’ rally is held at Davangere April 13.

As part of its pre-poll campaign, the BJP’s state unit leaders declared last month that the party would provide free power to farmers, rice at Rs.2 per kg and farm loans at three-four percent interest rate.

“In a desperate bid to grab power by any means, both the national political parties are indulging in poll gimmicks to woo the electorate. We have seen in the past how such gimmicks were used by other parties, especially regional ones such as DMK in Tamil Nadu to wrest power from its rival AIADMK in the last assembly election,” a Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) leader remarked on learning about Congress plans for the poor electorate.

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