The party also raised serious charges against the Melukote JD(S) candidate CS Puttaraju of using money and threats to get votes.

Swaraj India releases manifesto for Ktaka polls Focus on agriculture and environment
Karnataka Elections Manifesto Thursday, May 10, 2018 - 16:07

The Swaraj India party released its English manifesto for the upcoming Karnataka Assembly election on May 9 at the Press Club in Bengaluru. The party is fighting 11 seats in the state.

Releasing the manifesto, the party’s national president Yogendra Yadav claimed it was the first green manifesto in India. Unlike other manifestos which talk about industries and corporates, he said his party’s manifesto has sustainability and environment at its heart. The Kannada version of the manifesto was launched on May 3.

Speaking about the campaigns of other political parties in the state, Yogendra, who is also a psephologist, said, “Their politics was based on 3 Ds – Dodge, Derail and Distract. Everyone is busy talking about irrelevant things like General Cariappa, General Thimayya, Haider Ali, Tipu Sultan, etc. but no one is addressing the real issues.”

Speaking about the party manifesto, he said, “These are the times of mukti (freedom). BJP wants a Congress-mukt (Congress-free) India while Congress wants Karnataka to be free of Narendra Modi. So, we are focusing on 10 types of mukti for the people of Karnataka.” He then went on to describe the 10 basic themes of the manifesto.

The manifesto focuses heavily on agriculture and farm sector and demands fixing of Minimum Support Price (MSP) as at least 1.5 times the comprehensive cost of production, and one-time and unconditional waiver of all outstanding crop loans. Other demands include doubling of spending on MNREGA, prioritising horticulture and growing millets, encouraging fisheries and blocking the flow of money to insurance companies via the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.

Calling droughts man-made, policy and government-made disasters, the manifesto emphasises water conservation and recycling, and proposes rejecting the National Forest Policy, 2018 because “of the opening of doors to private players and encouragement of planting trees that are water guzzlers”.

The 25-page document pitches converting waste into fertilisers and electricity, mandating segregation of waste, rainwater harvesting, regeneration of lakes in urban areas and banning sand mining.

With unemployment being a major poll issue, the manifesto asks to look beyond government and organised sectors and create jobs in unorganised sector through special emphasis on animal husbandry such as goat and sheep cooperatives, and making handicrafts tax-free.

On the issues of corruption, the document urges strengthening the Lokayukta and supporting RTI as an institution and RTI activists, while encouraging whistleblowers, especially in the case of benami property.

On the issue of caste and religion-based polarisation, the manifesto demands that people who fuel conflict, hatred and violence between Hindus and Muslims be charged with treason.

Asking for greater investment in the education and health sectors, the party wants a public school to be opened from anganwadi to Class 4 in every neighbourhood and private profiteers to be banned from the education system. It asks for a library in every school and promises to encourage traditional medical systems including Unani, Siddha and Ayurveda.

When asked about speculation that his party will just cut the votes of major parties and not do anything substantial, Yogendra told TNM, “We are trying to give an alternative form of politics and governance. Everyone has to start from zero. By their logic, no one should start anything new and only top players should continue.”

Asked about his expectations for his party from this election, Yogendra said, “We are trying to enter the mind-space of the people here and show them that we are different than others. Any seats we win will be a bonus.”

At the event, Yogendra also attacked the Janata Dal (Secular) for using unfair means to win votes in Melukote in Mandya district. Darshan Puttanaiah is the Swaraj India party candidate from that seat and will be contesting against CS Puttaraju of the JD(S), who is the sitting MP from Mandya. TNM had already written about allegations that Puttaraju was using money power and offering god-fearing constituents free visits to the Tirupati temple and making them swear that they would vote for him.

Yogendra said, “In a school in the area, envelopes were being packed with Rs 1,000, kumkum, a picture of a deity, etc. ready to be distributed. Puttaraju had already distributed cash at a convention on April 23. When we took the police to the school, they refused to enter it and dismissed our complaint. We also have names of the 16 people tasked by the MP to distribute these envelopes and Rs 1 crore each to the voters. We have filed a complaint with the state chief electoral officer. Local JD(S) politicians are spreading false propaganda and allegations using government machinery and spreading lies about VVPAT voting machines, intimidating people to vote for their leader.”

Also read: Line up early, Karnataka voters: Moderate showers predicted for May 12

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