If voted to power in Telangana, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) will earmark Rs 25,000 crore in the annual state budget just for the welfare of farmers in the state, the party has said. Speaking to TNM on Tuesday, the party’s manifesto committee member, Ravula Chandrasekhar Reddy, said the party will have a separate manifesto, in addition to the common minimum programme of the 'mahakutami' alliance.
The Telangana unit of the TDP will be contesting the elections as part of what has been termed the mahakutami alliance, comprising the TDP, Telangana Congress, Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) and the Communist Party of India (CPI). The TDP will have a separate manifesto, apart from the alliance manifesto, called the ‘common minimum programme’.
With the intention of wooing Telangana farmers, the TDP will provide Rs 10,000 incentive for every farmer per acre every year.
Speaking on the key highlights of the TDP manifesto, Reddy said, “We will create a corpus fund of Rs 10,000 crore every year for market intervention for the farming community. Every year at the start of the harvesting season, the agricultural product prices come down. Even the purchasers who come to the market buy below the Minimum Support Price (MSP). We want to intervene at that stage see that the farmers get a remunerative price for their goods. This is good money which the farmers can invest back into agriculture and sustain themselves, considering the hike in pesticides and fertilizers costs.”
Apart from this, Rs 3,000 crore will be set aside yearly as calamity relief fund for the farmers, he added.
Before coming to power in 2014, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) had promised to provide 3 acres of land to landless farmers. However, this promise has not materialised. TDP is banking on winning over these disgruntled voters by promising Rs 3,000 per family to whom the 3 acres land was promised.
“The Dalits and other weaker section of society, whom the TRS had promised land but failed to deliver, will benefit from this scheme. The state government already has identified the 3 lakh families, our scheme will benefit them,” said Reddy.
The TDP also intends to raise the pension rates for the Aasara Pension for Old Age Persons (OAP) scheme from Rs 1,000 to Rs 3,000.
“Overall, annually, when all these schemes are put together, it will cost Rs 25,000 crore per year. This is unique and no political party has such a scheme anywhere in the country. This amount will be sufficient to cover the various farmer-centric initiatives we are including in our manifesto” claims Reddy.
The party also intends to expand the scope of ailments covered under the Arogya Shree scheme. “We intend to add dialysis and extend help to those who can't meet the medical expenses with pensions and free bus passes.”
A separate corporation catering to the needs of Dalit Christians in the state will also be constituted. “This corporation will give financial assistance to the needy eligible youngsters of that community,” said Reddy. “We give assurance to every religious and minority community in the state; we will represent them in our Cabinet and if not in the Cabinet then to nominated posts. There are no women or Dalits in the present Cabinet posts. We want to change that,” he added.
TDP is also promising to bring back Dharana chowk as a space for democratic protests in Hyderabad. “At present, people can't even protest in Telangana. This is a democratic country and not an authoritative one. The space to hold protests will also be identified in the districts”, he added.
When asked how TDP intends to bring down the cost of fuel and other commodities in the state, the TDP leader said, “The task of reducing prices will be borne by the government.”
The TDP, who had opposed the formation of Telangana, now intends to create a monument as a sign of respect for those who were martyred during the agitation demanding statehood.
“The Telangana martyrs have totally been neglected by the TRS and not even a process of identifying the 1,200 people for whom there was a confidence message in the assembly has not been initiated. We want to identify them, giving pension alone is not respect. We want to build a memorial for them,“ said Reddy.
Telangana goes to polls on December 7.