This year whether assembly elections in India's biggest state of Uttar Pradesh are being fought on the combination and permutations of cast, creed and religion or development is any issue in the state will be decided by the voters only, but the fact is all political parties have made several tall promises and showered freebies to woo the voters.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has announced a series of promises that his government would fulfill if they are elected to power.
Akhilesh stressed on the various infrastructure projects completed by the Samajwadi Government, including the Agra Expressway and the Lucknow Metro, which he claimed was built at a very fast pace.
The next government, he said, would build the Purvanchal Expressway and link district headquarters across the states with four-lane roads.
Akhilesh promised to strengthen his flagship laptop scheme while promsing to improve the education sector in the state.
The party manifesto promised a women education fund.
The Samajwadi Party leader also promised special ghee and milk powder packets for malnourished children, especially in the drought-hit region of Bundelkhand.
Reaching out to the youth, the leader promised skill development and self-employment schemes.
Speaking on the various issues of farmers, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister announced that the next government would constitute a fund to help aggrieved farmers.
The Chief Minister promised populist measures like giving Rs. 1,000 as pension to one crore people. Akhilesh also added that poor people will be given free wheat and rice.
On the other hand, the Congress' manifesto focuses on economic empowerment of women and child development.
The manifesto also focuses on the youth, farmers and Dalits.
The party announced free bicycles to girl students from classes 9 to 12, Rs. three lakh grant to Scheduled Caste youth to start a business, up to Rs. two lakh low-interest loans for minorities, reservation within reservation for OBC and loan waiver for farmers.
Here are some highlights of the party's manifesto:
1. 'Qarza Maaf, Bijli Half' is the prime issue taken in the party's manifesto. The party promised the welfare scheme that proposes to waive off loans of debt ridden farmers and reducing the price of electricity for farmers and artisans by half.
2. Police reforms, interestingly, is an issue that figures among the top issues. The party proposes changes in police preparedness and response measures while citing guidelines issued by Supreme Court of India in Prakash Singh & Ors vs Union of India case for overhaul of police administration structure.
3. In a rare mention of women-specific poll promise, the party has proposed 50 percent reservation for women in Panchayat elections.
4. Push for better implementation of credit facilities for small-scale industry and self-employment. The party has also proposed a new Uttar Pradesh Skills and Employment Mission for skilling youths and ensuring jobs for 50 lakh youths. A separate cell looking after job creation is proposed to be created within the Chief Minister's office.
5. For incentives to minorities, the party proposes a scheme to encourage young entrepreneurs to start their businesses but as a vague promise fails to give any details of the scheme.
6. It has proposed to reform the Mandi system while optimising fertiliser distribution in the state. It also promises farmers that they will be provided returns over and above the MSP announced by the Central Government by establishing an Agricultural Price Commission.
Ridiculing the Congress manifesto, Mayawati dubbed it as a "political drama which has made the party a laughing stock".
The Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) manifesto for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections promises sops for students, women and farmers.
The manifesto named Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra (Pledge for People's Welfare) promises free education, laptops and LPG connection in every home.
Following are the highlights of BJP's manifesto:
• Rs. 500 crore will be allocated for the Baba Ambedkar fund.
• All colleges and universities will have free WiFi.
• Up to Rs. six lakh loan from permanent houses and toilets. BPL citizens to get Rs. two lakh life cover.
• 24x7 electricity in all houses.
• Villages will be connected with mini-bus services
• There will be a Bundelkhand and Poorvanchal development board under the directed supervision of the Chief Minister's office.
• Redressal system in every district to sort our trader disputes.
• Rs. 5,000 for every girl child born in poor families; no age bar for widow pensions which will be Rs. 1,000.
• The opinion of all women on triple talaq will be taken and placed in front of Supreme Court.
• On Ram temple, the law will be followed to get the temple built as soon as possible.
• All farm loans to be waived; farmers will get further loans with zero percent interest.
• In the next five years, Rs. 150 crore fund will be set up for agricultural development.
• Bundelkhand will get special preference.
• The motto of Na goondaraj Na Bhrashtachar (no goondaraj, no corruption) will be followed.
• In 45 days, all criminals, who are out on parole and committing crimes, will be brought back to jails.
• FIRs for all citizens will be filed without caste bias.
• A task force will be set up in every district to tackle different mafias.
• Class III and Class IV employees will be hired only on the basis of merit, no interviews to end corruption.
• Rs. 1,000 crore start-up capital fund will be provided.
• 90 percent of the jobs will be given to youth of Uttar Pradesh.
• Laptops will be given without any bias with free 1 GB data per month.
• All students scoring about 50 percent will get free education till graduation.
• In the next five years, there will be toilets in every house, LPG in every house and gas pipelines for cities.
The BJP manifesto fare drew sharp criticism from the ruling Samajwadi Party and its alliance partner Congress.
Describing the manifesto as a "bundle of lies", the Samajwadi Party said that after getting majority on false promises, BJP showed total insensitivity and behaved irresponsibly in almost three years of its government at the Centre.
The Congress also hit out at BJP, alleging that it was out to rake up the Ram temple issue once again to hide its shortcomings.
Terming BJP's election manifesto "a ploy to fool people", BSP chief Mayawati has said that the BJP government at the Centre has not fulfilled even one-fourth of the promises it had made in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
The BSP, however, did not have an election manifesto for Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.
Instead of promising political freebies, Mayawati however focused on the caste, creed issue.
Working on the same social engineering formula (winning support of Dalit- Brahmin-OBC) that brought the BSP to power in the 2007 assembly elections to grab power in Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati has given tickets to 87 Dalits, 97 Muslims, 106 other backward castes and 113 upper castes candidates.
Among the upper castes, Brahmins have been given the lion's share of 66 tickets followed by Thakurs (36) and Kayasthas (11).
It is believed that the BSP has given a large share of the seats to upper caste and backward candidates to counter the BJP's onslaught.
However, Mayawati has said that "It would also not distribute free laptops and smartphones as the SP was doing. Instead, direct cash incentives would be provided to the poor and weaker sections".
Mayawati has also said that the BJP would scrap reservation if it came to power, while the Bahujan Samaj Party would extend it to the poor among the upper castes.
She promised that if elected to power, her government would not erect statues or monuments now.
Mayawati said other parties make populist announcements in election manifestoes, but these remained "limited to elections".
The BSP leader said her party would contest assembly election on the formula of 'sarvjan hitay, sarvjan sukhay' (welfare of all communities).
Eyeing on the crown of government in the politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati promised major needs and also slams opposition while addressing a massive rally earlier in Moradabad.
BSP Supremo speech highlights:
*BSP Government will solve problems of (Contractual teachers) Sikhsha Mitra.
*All unmarried lady teachers will be transferred to their home districts.
*When BSP will come to power no new statues will be built as all the projects have already done by previous BSP government.
*Samajwadi Party financial decisions and recruitment procedures will be reviewed properly.
*No fake foundation laying ceremonies will be conducted.
*We will complete all development welfare schemes
*Congress has formed an alliance with anti-minority Samajwadi Party.
*We will provide egg, milk and other basic quality products as midday meal.
*BSP will waive loans on farmers.
*People who are landless and dalits will be distributed land.
*Uttar Pradesh Law and Order is totally collapsed, if BSP comes to power there will be complete law and order.
*There is anger among people due to flawed policies of Central government.
*All welfare schemes that were stopped by SP government will be restarted.