The Bharatiya Janata Party has attempted to retain its urban middle class voters, especially students, while announcing a slew of schemes for the poor in its newly released manifesto for the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections scheduled on November 25.

Among other things, the party has offered smartphones for college-goers, a veterinary ambulance helpline and the formation of the Madhya Pradesh Middle Classes Commission on the lines of the commissions formed for backward classes and deprived sections, if elected for a third time.

BJP national vice-president Vikram Verma, the coordinator of the manifesto committee, said the government’s existing populist schemes will continue, and new schemes, including those not in the manifesto, will be introduced. “This manifesto is mostly for the youth and we have focused on college students and those receiving technical education,” he said.

Free bus passes

Besides smartphones, the party has offered to pay the rent of students staying in private hostels and those sharing accommodation, through a scheme.

The manifesto titled ‘Jan Sankalp 2013’ also offers subsidised bus passes for students in rural areas who commute 10-15 kilometres. The BJP promises to promote five lakh young entrepreneurs before 2018, with the State standing as guarantor for loans.

It will also set up five new medical and 15 nursing colleges, and increase MBBS seats from 1620 to 5000 by 2018, the manifesto said.

Debt relief

A Debt Relief Commission which will decide the waiver to be awarded to farmers based on their location and need will also be set up, the party promised.

Besides, a 50 per cent subsidy on water pumps for small and medium-scale farmers will be provided.

On the lines of the 108 ambulance emergency line, a 109 veterinary ambulance service will be introduced to support animal husbandry.

Homes for the poor

The manifesto has also promised up to 15 lakh free and subsidised homes for the poor, life insurance and rice at Re. 1 per kilo for those below the poverty line, and drinking water for hamlets with populations of more than 100 people.

The BJP has promised to increase irrigation from 25 lakh hectares to 40 lakh hectares and develop a network of small and village industries.

No to FDI in retail

Foreign Direct Investment in multi brand retail will not be allowed.

Four industrial corridors will be developed and all villages and farms will be connected by roads, the manifesto said.

The government has drawn flak for the degradation of roads after monsoons which have led to several accidents.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said many of his schemes emerged from the panchayats called for various occupational groups in the State. These, he said, will continue, and the government will go beyond the manifesto.