Congress offers freebies ahead of five state polls

By Saiyed Moziz Imam Zaidi
New Delhi, Oct 24 (IANS)
In the run-up to the polls in five states, the Congress has started offering ‘freebies’ in Uttar Pradesh. Party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has offered scooties and smartphones. Besides, she has promised that power bills would be cut by half, sugarcane rates would be increased to Rs 400 and farm loans will be waived.
The party plans to replicate this strategy in the other poll-bound states of Goa, Uttarakhand, Punjab, and Manipur also. The manifesto committees of all the states going to the polls are working on the promises which can be put forth. The Congress has called a meeting on October 26 to discuss the elections.
Starting from Uttar Pradesh where the Congress is for the first time in years trying to pose a serious challenge, Priyanka said: “I met some students, they said they need smartphones to study and for security. I am happy that with the consent of the manifesto committee, the Uttar Pradesh Congress today took a decision to give smartphones to the girls who pass Intermediate and electronic scooty to Bachelor students.”
The Congress is not the principal opposition party in the state but it is ruling in Punjab and is the main opposition party in three other states.
In Punjab, Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi has announced waiver of arrears of electricity bills up to 2KW to more than 52 lakh consumers. Channi said Rs 1,200 crore has been earmarked for it.
But in Goa during the manifesto meet, there were suggestions that the party should not make tall claims as that might not work since Goa was ruled by the Congress for a long time. The manifesto committee headed by Nav Prabhat in Uttarakhand is also working on the promises to be made to the voters.
Meanwhile, the Congress is going to raise the issue of inflation and price rise during meetings. The Congress Working Committee had on October 16 discussed and decided that between November 14-29 the party would hold mass agitations and awareness programmes named ‘Jan Jagran Abhiyan’ against the runaway inflation and price rise.
In this programme, the party workers would reach out to people and highlight the ‘poor handling’ of the economy by the Central government which has resulted in price rise.
During the two-week ‘Jan Jagran Abhiyan’, all senior office-bearers of states, districts, block committees, all frontal organisations, departments and cells will undertake a long ‘padyatra’ (march) to touch each polling booth.
No public meeting, but small group meetings will be held to interact with the common people.

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