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In a first, Congress manifesto has strategy to tackle Naxal menace in Chhattisgarh

AICC treasurer Motilal Vohra (second from right) releases the Congress manifesto in Raipur, Monday.

After confronting Naxalism for 13 years, the Chhattisgarh polity has finally included the issue in its political programme as the Congress spelt out a strategy to tackle the Red movement in its election manifesto released Monday. “Restoration of trust” and security operations only when they are “necessary”, the party emphasised, are keys to resolve the crisis. “For this, gaining the trust of Scheduled Tribes will be given priority,” the document said. After two elections in 2003 and 2008, this is the first instance insurgency has found its way in a poll manifesto.

Released by AICC treasurer and chief of Congress election campaign committee Motilal Vora in Raipur, the manifesto noted that “the extremists who join the mainstream will be treated with complete sympathy”, and officers posted in the Naxal-hit regions will be transferred to normal zones “as per their desire”. Jeeram Ghati, the spot where Maoists launched their biggest attack on a political convoy and killed several prominent Congress leaders, will be developed as a “martyr memorial”. The party also promised to rehabilitate “tribals displaced either from home or the state due to Maoist violence or violence in its retaliation”. By focusing on the trust and governance deficit, the manifesto only carries forward the strategy of slain PCC chief Nand Kumar Patel.

Going ahead of the state government’s populist subsidised rice scheme, the party promised that “except tax payees, all BPL and APL families in the state will be given 35kg free rice”. At present, Antyodaya families get 35kg rice at Rs 1 per kg and priority households get the same quantity at Rs 2 per kg. Promising a slew of measures to woo farmers and tribals, the party claimed if voted to power it would procure paddy from farmers at Rs 2,000 per quintal, and of this Rs 500 will be directly transferred to a woman of the farmer’s family.

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