Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday released the BJP’s manifesto for the Bihar assembly polls which promised free COVID-19 vaccine once it has been cleared by the ICMR.
It also sought to reach out to the youth with the promise of 19 lakh jobs in the next five years and farmers with the assurance of bringing lentils under the MSP regime.
Opposition parties slammed the BJP for promising free COVID vaccines and demanded action by the Election Commission, while alleging that the ruling party was using the pandemic for political gains.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took a swipe at the BJP, saying one has to refer to the state-wise election schedule to know when one will have access to the vaccine. The BJP, however, said health is a state subject and its manifesto is for Bihar, not for the entire country, where it has promised that the state will buy the vaccine for its people.
“The NDA government in Bihar has set an example before the country in the fight against corona. It is our resolve that once the vaccine against the coronavirus has been cleared by the ICMR, we will make it available to the people of Bihar free of cost,” said the manifesto. The promise figured at the top of the BJP’s election document.
Carrying the tagline ‘BJP hai to bharosa hai’, the party drew heavily upon the trust enjoyed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi among the masses by virtue of pro-people measures like the Jan Dhan scheme and the Ujjwala Yojana.
“Bihar is a politically sensitive state. Here people cannot be fobbed off with empty promises. Claims made by parties are likely to be weighed against their past track record. This is where the BJP scores,” Sitharaman told a press conference where she released the manifesto.
“We have the confidence that we can deliver on our promises. In the last six years, all the programmes announced by the Prime Minister have been implemented, be it electrification of villages, gas cylinders for poor women or financial inclusion of all citizens by getting accounts opened in their name in banks,” she asserted.
Speaking about the coronavirus vaccine, the minister said India has reached a point where it is on the verge of producing three vaccines after different stages of trial.
“When we reach the stage where scientists give clearance for large-scale production of the vaccine, we will make it available to the people of Bihar free of cost,” she said.
The highlights of the party’s vision document, displayed through a power-point presentation, include recruitment of three lakh teachers in primary, secondary and higher educational institutions.
The party also proposed to develop the state, which has so far remained largely untouched by the boom in information technology, into an IT hub holding out the promise of five lakh jobs in the sector.