By: Hema Dogra
Shimla: The BJP’s announcement of developing Himachal Pradesh as a financially sovereign state powered by ‘power (hydel) and tourism’ sectors, has given the voters of the state a new food for thought. Constitution of the Sixth Pay Commission, new transfer policy, employee pension in local bodies and private institutions are the highlights of the election manifesto released by the BJP in Shimla today.
While releasing the manifesto in Shimla today, state BJP President Jai Ram Thakur emphasised on dealing with unemployment, price rise and bringing transparency in administration, as the main objectives of the BJP’s return to power. BJP’s candidate for the post of Chief Minister P K Dhumal, party in-charge of Himachal affairs Satya Pal Jain, Co-incharge O.P. Dhankad, National Vice President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Shanta Kumar were also present during the manifesto release in Shimla.
Dhumal assured that within one month of coming to the power his government would give relief to those employees who have become victims of political vendetta during the Congress regime and were either transferred or dismissed. He assured of a good transfer policy, keeping in view the both the working husband and wife. “Congress regime would be remembered as one marked by regionalism, nepotism, unemployment and corruption”, said Dhumal. He said that all the scandals committed during the Congress’ rule, including the fertilizer scam and allotment of hydel projects would be inquired into when BJP returns to power. Dhumal talked of reducing the geographical as well as emotional distances among the people of the state by construction of more tunnels and keeping away from regionalism. The manifesto release was marked by a power punched speech by Shanta Kumar where he highlighted the BJP’s biggest achievement of getting 12 per cent royalty in form of free powerto the state, which is the state’s highest source of revenue generation without any investment.
“Despite Congress being at the centre during the 1990 our government (in Himachal) fought this case so that the state can earn 12 per cent royalty, in form of free power, from the water being used by private investors for generating power,” said Shanta Kumar who was the ten Chief Minister. He criticized Virbhadra Singh for being short sighted in view of making the state financially independent. “So far we are earning Rs.1464 crore annual royalty from the power sector, Rs 19.5 crore in terms of taxes and Rs. 2000 crore as domestic income of the state. In the long run when the state exploits its full hyro-power potential we can expect Rs. 5000 crore royalty and then we would be the first state to be financially indecent due to earning from hydro power”, said Shanta.
He even dreamt of a time when the state turns power surplus and would be able to remove all taxes levied on the citizens. Referring to the recorded-CD released by state BSP convener Vijai Singh Mankotia, Shanta attacked the CM for bringing bad name to the state and called him the first CM who was caught red handed in corruption. The other highlights of the manifesto are ensuring that no forceful conversion take place, strengthening of health services for the ex-servicemen in all district headquarters, solution for farmers from the problem of destruction of crops by wild animals, enhancing water harvesting for irrigation as well as drinking, expansion of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna, 50 per cent reservation of women in local bodies and Panchayti Raj Institutions, action against transfer mafia, support price and strong market intervention system for fruit growers, better education for the disabled and improving the quality of education. The BJP said it would make the manifesto as its government policy.