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Drought-free Maharashtra, 1 crore jobs & Bharat Ratna for Savarkar in BJP’s poll manifesto

To combat drought, BJP plans to divert 167 TMC of water from west-flowing rivers to drought-hit parts of Marathwada and North Maharashtra.

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Mumbai: With large parts of Maharashtra having battled water crisis in the last five years, resulting in a dip in the state’s agricultural growth, one of the key promises which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) makes ahead of the 21 October assembly elections is to make the state drought-free by 2024.

The BJP released its 44-page manifesto, called the ‘Sankalpa Patra’, in Mumbai Tuesday, less than a week before the state goes to polls.

In a promise that has already hit headlines, the BJP manifesto says it will make efforts to get Bharat Ratna awarded to right-wing ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, and also to social reformers Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule.

The manifesto also promises to make the state a trillion dollar economy. While releasing the Sankalp Patra, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “We have put special emphasis on drought mitigation, employment generation, creating basic infrastructure and percolation of development to all sections of the society.”

Also read: Shiv Sena manifesto promises durable roads across urban Maharashtra, stays silent on Aarey

Drought-free Maharashtra

Monsoon in Maharashtra has been extremely erratic for most of the past five years, with the state getting only 70.2 per cent of rainfall in 2014-15 — the first year of the Fadnavis-led government. It received 59.4 per cent in 2015-16, 94.9 per cent in in 2016-17 and 84.3 per cent in 2017-18, according to data from the Economic Survey of Maharashtra.

The report also states that monsoon in the state was 73.6 per cent below normal in 2018, with nine out of Maharashtra’s 355 talukas, excluding Mumbai city and suburban districts, receiving scanty showers and another 183 talukas getting deficient rainfall. Growth in the agriculture sector also subsequently dipped from 3.1 per cent in 2017-18 to 0.4 per cent in 2018-19.

The BJP’s manifesto lists several schemes through which it plans to bring water to drought-prone areas and reduce their dependence on rainfall. Some of the party’s plans include diverting 167 TMC of water from west-flowing rivers to drought-hit parts of Marathwada and North Maharashtra, redirecting overflow from the Wainganga river to parched western Vidarbha, linking 11 dams for the Marathwada water grid project and diverting flood waters from rivers such as Krishna and Koyna to dry areas of western Maharashtra.

The party has also proposed a solar power grid to be linked with all irrigation facilities and assures 12 hours of electric solar power to farmers every day.

The Congress-NCP and Shiv Sena manifestos have promised a complete farm loan waiver as one of the solutions to the agrarian crisis. While the BJP manifesto refrains from making such a promise, Fadnavis said 50 lakh farmers have been benefited under the state government’s 2017 loan waiver scheme. More such cases which are stuck due to technical issues are being cleared every day, he added.

BJP’s national working president J.P. Nadda, who was present at the manifesto release event, said, “Congress, NCP and other parties have diluted the meaning of manifestos. The BJP’s manifesto, on the other hand, is a well-studied researched document. It is pragmatic and implementable.”

Also read: Devendra Fadnavis is so strong in Maharashtra that he is ready to wrestle, but ring is empty

Trillion dollar economy

For a trillion dollar economy in Maharashtra, the party plans to create an international global financial centre in Mumbai, IT parks at Pune, Nagpur, Kolhapur, Aurangabad and Nashik, one technology park in each of Maharashtra’s six revenue divisions and others.

“Trillion dollar economy is not just a number that we plan to achieve for the state in five years, but it is working towards an economic arrangement through employment generation, investments in sectors such as industries, agriculture, infrastructure. We have prepared a roadmap,” said CM Fadnavis said.

The BJP has also promised to create one crore jobs in five years under its proposed plans. Citing a central government report, Fadnavis said the state has managed to give employment to 60 lakh people in small and medium enterprises sector in the last five years.

The party also promised to invest Rs 5 lakh crore to improve basic infrastructure services in the state with the Centre’s help.

The manifesto also promises housing with fresh drinking water for all by 2022, an independent body to repair and maintain all types of roads in the state, connecting entire Maharashtra with Internet services, expand the scope of the Ayushman Bharat scheme and Mahatma Phule Jan Arogya Yojana to ensure health services for all and social security for all labourers.

Also read: 3 elections & 15 years later, Dharavi still gets same political promise — redevelopment

Bharat Ratna for Savarkar

In a part of the section dedicated to ‘rajyachi asmita’ (the state’s pride), the BJP manifesto has proposed to work towards getting Bharat Ratna for personalities such as Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule.

Savarkar, popularly known as Veer Savarkar, was a freedom fighter and a right-wing ideologue who was chargesheeted for Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, but later exonerated due to lack of evidence.

CM Fadnavis has already approved a memorial for Savarkar at his birthplace Bhagur in Nashik. Awarding a Bharat Ratna to Savarkar has been a long-standing demand of BJP ally Shiv Sena.

Some other promises made by the party include completing the mid-sea Chhatrapati Shivaji memorial and Dr B.R. Ambedkar memorial at Indu Mills, helping women self-help groups set up khadi businesses in every taluka to mark the 150th year of Gandhi’s birth and the 100th birth year of Dalit icon and social reformer Annabhau Sathe, memorials for Ahilyabai Holkar, Sathe and Jijabai and Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji’s mother.

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  1. Savarkar was sent to Andaman jail for being a part of what was called the India House Group, which believed in an armed rebellion against the British. From the jail he sent two letters of apology to ruling authorities seeking pardon. He was not only pardoned but also allocated a regular stipend by the British for nearly 40 years of his life. Thus he remained a total nonentity in the struggle for India’s freedom for a major part of his life. A commonsensical observation would be that he caved in, or compromised.

    The BJP is painfully aware of this embarrassing truth. They recently tried to whitewash it by erecting an enjoined single-piece statue of Savarkar, Bhagat Singh and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in a Delhi college. Now they want to whitewash Savarkar’s past nationwide by giving him a Bharat Ratna. It is totally unjustified. If Bharat had such “ratnas”, we would still be under the British rule.

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