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Grand Alliance releases manifesto for Bihar election; focus on employment, farm laws

The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)-led Grand Alliance (GA) on Saturday released its joint manifesto — titled ‘Badlav Ka Sankalp’ (commitment to change) — for the upcoming assembly elections in the state, promising to offer jobs to thousands of youngsters and repealing the new farm laws recently enacted by the central government if they are elected to power.

RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, at the press conference on Saturday, launched a campaign of party nominees in the fray for the first phase of polling on October 28. As many as 71 seats out of 243 are going to the polls in the first phase.

Releasing the manifesto in the presence of All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala and other GA leaders, Tejashwi said that their government, if elected, would first approve the process for appointments on about 1000,000 jobs in the government. “Contractual teachers would be entitled for same pay for same work, for which they have been agitating for long,” said Tejashwi, believed to be the alliance’s chief ministerial candidate.

Assuring the people that the alliance will stand by its commitments, Tejashwi said that they were not leaders who conveniently forget their promises and that the state has still not been accorded a special status — a demand echoed for years by political parties in Bihar.

“Trump will not come to accord special status to Bihar, which was once promised by the Prime Minister,” said Yadav, in an apparent reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ties with US President Donald Trump.

Congress leader Surjewala too said that the first assembly sitting of the GA government would see annulment of the three controversial farm acts that, he alleged, defeat the objectives of green revolution in the state. “Where would the farmers get the minimum support price (MSP) of their produce if there is a market,” the Congress leader questions, saying that the people of Bihar might forgive everything but not betrayal.

The Centre last month enacted three farm reforms to liberalise agricultural markets and end local monopolies of regulated markets known as agricultural produce marketing committees by opening up to private competition. Assurances by the Centre that the new measures give farmers the options to sell their produce to private buyers while the government would continue to purchase staples at MSPs have done little to dissipate concerns. Big farmers’ groups, who usually produce substantial surpluses, fear deregulation will leave them vulnerable to powerful agribusinesses.

Focusing on crimes against women and children in the state, the GA leaders said many perpetrators of gang rape against minors at Muzaffarpur shelter home were still at large. Waiver of fee for competitive examination for jobs and helpline for migrant workers have also been promised in the manifesto.

Countering charges of “inexperience”, Yadav said that the vision for development did not necessarily come with age. “As the deputy CM, we have laid the foundation of development with great vision. I ,as a minister of road construction department, proposed development of dedicated expressway to connect the Bihta airport. Many state highways were converted as the national highways (NHs),” said the RJD leader who was the deputy CM before JD(U) left the Mahagathbandhan grouping.

Yadav further alleged that more than 60 scams have taken place under chief minister Nitish Kumar’s government in Bihar and that the Janata Dal (United)-BJP combine had stabbed the state’s people on their backs.

Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) chief Madan Mohan Jha, chairman of BPCC campaign committee Akhilesh Prasad Yadav, national RJD spokesperson Manoj Jha and CPI(ML) leader Shashi Yadav were also present during the release of manifesto.

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