NEW DELHI

Promises galore in Cong. manifesto

BHOPAL NOV. 13 .The Madhya Pradesh Congress manifesto for the upcoming State Assembly elections released here today promises social justice and development while reasserting the party's commitment to continue the policy of focused attention on priority areas like health, literacy, education, and sanitation to improve the overall quality of life of the people.

Releasing the manifesto, the Chief Minister, Digvijay Singh, said that "after fulfilling almost all the promises made at the time of the 1993 and 1998 Assembly elections", the Congress now resolves to ensure housing facilities for every family, employment to one member of each family, and the basic health, education, drinking water and sanitation facilities for all in the coming years.

The Chief Minister, who was flanked by the MPCC Chief, Radhakishan Malviya, the senior Rajya Sabha member and the media in charge of the State party unit, Suresh Pachouri, besides the manifesto committee members, said that the Congress vision for 2003-2008 was to provide good governance and build a healthy, literate and prosperous State. The Chief Minister said that his party would address the unemployment problem in a concerted manner by implementing specially designed-schemes for employment generation. He said one person from each poor family would be given a guarantee of 120 days' employment in a year. Besides, employment-oriented vocational training would be imparted in polytechnics and industrial training institutes (ITIs). Similarly, employment oriented programmes will be taken up in institutions associated with agriculture, horticulture and other sectors. While pointing out that the State Congress Government had already given the ownership rights over minor forest produce to the forest dwellers, the Chief Minister said that the State Government had also started implementing the decision to hand over the entire profit from the exploitation of teak and timber from the State forests to the forest committees. Furthermore, the Congress also proposes to launch the scheme "Jungle Lagao, Rojgar Badhao'' (grow forests and raise employment).

On the issue of poverty reduction, Mr. Singh said that the State had 42. 52 per cent people living below the poverty line in 1993-94 whereas their percentage has now come down to 37.43 per cent. In the coming years, efforts would be intensified to achieve better results, he added.

Coming to the core issue of infrastructure development, Mr. Singh said that construction of rural roads measuring 24000 kms would be started. Besides, 2000 kms of State highways and the main district roads would be upgraded every two years, he said and added that the State would implement a Rs. 1700- crore project for construction of State highways and district roads. For this project, the Asian Development Bank would provide Rs. 900 crores, he added.

By the time the State completes 50 years of its existence on November 1, 2006, the Chief Minister said, there would be hundred per cent literacy.

The Union Law Minister, Arun Jaitley, who is also in charge of the Madhya Pradesh unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party, was highly critical of the Congress manifesto while addressing mediapersons at the State BJP headquarters later his evening. He said the people of this State, who were confronted with chaos and backwardness, had no reason to have any faith in the Congress party's pre-election promises.