Uttar Pradesh polls: BJP manifesto adds 'spiritual Disneyland' to Ram Mandir promise

Uttar Pradesh polls: BJP manifesto adds 'spiritual Disneyland' to Ram Mandir promise

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Lucknow:  The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) promises a cow for every poor family in UP; cheap laptops and tablets; jobs; a "spiritual Disneyland in Mathura-Vrindavan";  a very strong Lokayukta. And tucked somewhere between the many pages of the party's manifesto for the state released today, is a commitment to overcoming all obstacles to ensure that the Ram Mandir is built in Ayodhya.

What was once its main poll plank is now been overtaken by the other promises; and announcing those today was Sudheendra Kulkarni, once a key advisor in the party and who had in recent days broken ranks with it. He is back and vowed today to best Mayawati in, well, a war of statues -  if voted to power, the BJP says, it will install statues too. Not of its own leaders, but those of other thinkers and idols like Sant Kabir, Sant Ravidas, Bijli Pasi and Jhalkari Bai.

"We will make Uttar Pradesh the best state in the country," Mr Kulkarni said at a function to release the manifesto. Other party leaders like Uma Bharti and Kalraj Mishra were present. The BJP chose the same day as the Congress to showcase its promise to Uttar Pradesh. The Congess too released its vision document this afternoon and the two parties promise to tackle many of the same issues, rather differently.

After leading the Opposition charge against the government on the need for a strong ombudsman body at the Centre, the BJP has promised that if it comes to power it will give  UP a Lokayukta with teeth, much on the lines of its much-feted Lokayukta in neigbouring Uttarakhand.

"The BJP will have a strong lokayukta. The Chief Minister will come under the purview of the lokayukta and its will be given a prosecution wing," Mr Kulkarni said.

The party's manifesto also promises the creation of one crore new jobs in the state in five years and pointedly says it it will do away with the 4.5 per cent reservation for backward minorities that the UPA government at the Centre pushed through recently and the Congress is underscoring in its UP agenda.

But Rahul Gandhi's "you won't have to leave UP for a living" promise finds echo in the BJP's manifesto -  it promises more industrialization in the state to trigger reverse migration of people who leave UP every year for cities like Delhi and Mumbai in search of jobs.

The BJP says it will bring to UP the politics of development that states its rules, like Gujarat and Bihar, have seen. Among freebies it promises is a Rs 24000 allowance for unemployed youth. And if the Samjawadi Party says it will give laptops and tablets to successful school students, so does the BJP. Only the SP says it will give them free of cost; the BJP says it will have them made available at a much-reduced cost -  tablets for Rs. 1000, laptops for Rs 5000.

And if the Congress has announced a package for UP weavers, the BJP says it will bring-in credit cards for the state's weavers and craftsmen.

The party also reiterates a long-standing promise - 33 percent reservation for women in Lok Sabha, Vidhan Sabha and government jobs.  And, like the Congress, there is an accent on health.

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