The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Friday released its election manifesto for Punjab, promising to root out corruption by passing the Jan Lokpal Bill, making the state drug- and debt-free within two years, and focusing special attention on farmers and Dalits.
The party, which is riding high on its anti-corruption stance romped to power in Delhi with a brute majority in 2014, said it would also put an end to the VIP culture and mafia raj in the state. De-politicisation of transport remains a key agenda, with the party promising to “snatch bus permits from the (ruling family of) Badals, top politicians of the SAD-BJP and Congress” and give them to unemployed youth.
Targeting the farming community, AAP also vowed to implement the National Commission on Farmers’ Swaminathan report submitted in 2006 by December 2020 and assured financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh and a government job for every eligible adult member of families affected by farmer suicides in the past decade. It also promised Rs 5 lakh financial assistance to families of 1984 riots’ victims.
On the welfare front, besides promising that farmers would continue to get 12 hours of free electricity a day, the party also promised to waive loans of poor farmers and farm labourers and make Punjab debt-free by December 2018.
In a bid to woo Dalit voters, who constitute nearly 32 per cent of the state’s population, the party announced a clutch of promises, including free education for Dalit girls up to Class 12, waiving of admission charges for Dalit students in government schools, and introducing Higher Education Guarantee Scheme, along the lines of its Delhi programme. Promises of pucca houses for weaker sections also remain on the party’s agenda.
The AAP manifesto also emphasised its promise to set up a Special Investigative Team (SIT) to recommend exemplary punishment for atrocities and false cases registered against Dalits in the last five years. It also said it would stop the auction of villages’ common land reserved for Dalits to influential persons of other castes, a long-standing demand of the Dalit community.
It also vowed to continue all existing subsidies and welfare schemes extended to Dalit families, including free gas connection with burner/stove, and 400 free power units.
Targeting the ruling SAD-BJP combine, the new entrant also highlighted its promise to make Punjab drug-free within a month of coming to power. This it said it would achieve by incarcerating druglords and ensuring free de-addiction treatment in all Government De-Addiction and Rehabilitation Centres, launch of an anti-drug toll-free helpline, and setting up a school of addiction studies.
Among the more populist promises are free WiFi in villages, cities and government colleges, CCTV cameras in schools and police stations, 10,000 toilets for women in public spaces and 25 lakh jobs in the next five years.
The manifesto also included a promise to jail allegedly corrupt SAD ministers and initiate high-level inquiries.