Bengaluru: Making a bid to return to power in Karnataka, the BJP on Friday released its manifesto for the May 12 Assembly elections and promised free smartphones to poor women, free laptops to students entering college and visits to China and Israel for farmers.
"Our manifesto aims to cater to the aspirations of the people of Karnataka. We have focused on the welfare of farmers, women, youths and backward sections," said the Bharatiya Janata Party's state unit head and chief ministerial candidate B.S. Yeddyurappa.
"All women from the below poverty line (BPL) families will be given free smartphones under a 'Mukhya Mantri Smartphone Yojane'," Yeddyurappa told the media here. Every student enrolling in a college will get a free laptop.
One thousand farmers will be allowed to travel to countries like Israel and China each year to study their best agricultural practices under the "Chief Minister's Fellowship for Agriculture", the manifesto said.
The document proposes to waive all farmers' loans up to Rs 1 lakh from nationalised and cooperative banks in the very first Cabinet meeting after the swearing-in of the new government.
The party said it will support about 20 lakh small and marginal dry land farmers through a direct income support of Rs 10,000. "We will ensure that farmers receive 1.5 times the cost of production as Minimum Support Price," read the 60-page manifesto.
The party will set aside Rs 5,000-crore "Raitha Bandhu Market Intervention Fund" to support farmers during price fluctuations. "An amount of Rs 100 crore will be allocated for 'Raitha Bandhu Scholarship' to be given to farmers' children to pursue agriculture and allied sector courses in the state," the manifesto added.
The party, which is projecting Yeddyurappa as a farmers' leader, will spend Rs 1.5 lakh crore on various irrigation projects, according to the manifesto. The BJP leader said the party will earmark Rs 10,000 crore for a "Stree Unnati" Fund to set up women-run cooperatives across the state and establish stores to market products made by women at district and sub-district headquarters.
The party said it would ensure more work opportunities in the state but did not specify the number of jobs it aimed to create. The BJP also said that it will reintroduce the Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Preservation Bill, 2012. "The 'Gau Seva Aayoga' (cow welfare committee), set up by Yeddyurappa, will be re-established," the manifesto added.
The party also plans to construct more than 300 "Annapoorna Canteens" across the state, with three in each of the 30 district headquarters and one in each sub-district (taluka) headquarters to provide affordable meals to all.
The ruling Congress in October last year allocated a budget of Rs 185 crore to open 246 Indira Canteens, named after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, in all the districts of the state and talukas. The canteens are functional in most districts, including Bengaluru.
The BJP manifesto also vowed to allocate Rs 6,500 crore to build houses for people from Scheduled Tribes and an additional Rs 8,500 crore for housing for the Scheduled Castes.
The manifesto lists schemes like providing sanitary napkins to poor girls and women for free and at a token Re 1 for others, three-gram gold "thaali" (sacred thread) along with Rs 25,000 for the marriage of young women from BPL households, forming special flying squads to address distress calls by women from Bengaluru, among others.
The party said it was committed to make Bengaluru a "zero garbage" city, by recycling of all sewage generated and through other steps.