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Assam polls: Congress promises farm loan waiver, free power, Nyay


New Delhi, Jan 03: The Congress on Friday sounded the poll bugle in Assam by announcing waiver of farm debts and microfinance loans for women, implementation of minimum income guarantee scheme 'Nyay', free electricity up to 120 units for the poor and middle class and ensuring at least one job for each family.

Assam polls: Congress promises farm loan waiver, free power, Nyay

The sops for Assam where Assembly election is due in March-April this year were announced by state Congress president Ripun Bora at an interaction with mediapersons in Guwahati.

The condition of farmers in the state is deplorable as the cost of production is very high and, without getting the minimum support price (MSP), they are forced to go for distress sale.

If the Congress comes to power in the state, it will waive the farmers' debt like "it has been done by the party's governments in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Punjab and also in Madhya Pradesh earlier under Kamal Nath", Bora said.

People in villages, particularly women, take loans from microfinance organisations and face immense harassment, he said.

A bill has been unanimously passed in the just concluded Assembly session to protect economically vulnerable people, particularly women, from microfinance institutions and money lenders.

"We do not have any issue with it (the bill), but women empowerment is a priority for the party and when we come to power, all types of microfinance loans for women will be waived," he said.

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Bora said that the Congress will also implement the minimum income guarantee scheme 'Nyuntam Aay Yojana' (Nyay), which was included in the party's manifesto in the last Lok Sabha polls.

Nobel laureate economist Abhijit Banerjee helped the party conceptualise the scheme, which was implemented by the Congress government in Chhattisgarh, he said.

The Congress, during its earlier term in power, had introduced the Rajiv Gandhi Gramya Bidyutikaran Scheme, whereby 30 units of free power were given to 13.55 lakh families, which the present BJP government is continuing.

"Power supply is a major issue in the state, and its price has increased though the income of people has not. If the Congress comes to power, it will provide relief to maximum people, with 120 units of free electricity to nearly 60 lakh poor and middle class families," Bora said.

Unemployment is a major problem in the state and though the BJP had promised 25 lakh jobs to the youth, this has turned out to be an "election jumla" as nearly 1 lakh posts are now lying vacant, he claimed.

The Congress will adopt the policy of 'one family, one job' and though there will be a proper recruitment policy according to merit, "we will ensure that we can provide jobs," the state Congress president said.

Experts are examining this in detail and the operational part will be highlighted in the election manifesto, he added.

Nobody should doubt that these announcements are "mere election promises but everyone should rest assured that the Congress knows how to manage the economy," he said.

The Congress had assumed power at a time when the state treasury was empty and employees were not receiving salaries but on assuming power, then chief minister Tarun Gogoi took initiatives that transformed the state's economy, Bora said.

The Congress is also committed to protect communal harmony, which is a part of the exceptional social fabric of the state, and not divide people on the basis of religion, community and language as the BJP is doing since assuming power, Bora said.

"The BJP's prime agenda is to emotionally exploit people and assume power by dividing people like the British did. Our sole objective is not to capture power but ensure welfare of all people," he said.

He, however, said that he did not want to attack the BJP and talk about negative things on the first day of the new year and decided to highlight the positive steps that the Congress would take for the people of the state.

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