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Left woos Bengal poor with insurance, cheap rice
Left Front on Wednesday announced wide ranging sops promising health insurance policy to every poor family.
Kolkata: Poll-bound West Bengal's ruling Left Front on Wednesday announced wide ranging sops promising a health insurance policy to every poor family, electricity to every home and rice at Rs.2 a kilogram to every family with a monthly income of less than Rs.10,000. Releasing the manifesto for the six phase assembly election starting from April 18, Front chairman Biman Bose announced a 10-point programme which, he said, aimed at increasing employment and raising the income of people living below the poverty line.
The Left Front, which is fighting hard to wrestle off anti-incumbency, coined a new slogan. It asked the voters to return it to power for the state's "agriculture, industry, peace, democracy and progress".
The document was mainly targeted at the left's once impregnable support base of rural Bengal, which has veered to a large extent to the Trinamool Congress-led opposition in recent years. It also had a tone of introspection, asking left workers to rectify mistakes, check corruption, nepotism and misbehaviour with the masses.
The manifesto pledged to provide electric connection to every household, and subsidised power to all pump sets used in agriculture and set a target of generating 4,000 MW of electricity to meet the demands of the industry and other users. "If in these pump sets power is used during the time fixed by the government, these would be provided power at reduced rates," the front said.
Laying stress on health and education, two areas where the government's performance has drawn flak from the opposition and experts, the manifesto promised to extend the scope of universal free education now available upto class VIII.
"Starting with the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes and minorities, all girl students will be given dress and cycle allowance within five years," it said. The Left Front also said financial assistance will be given to bring down the rate of school dropouts below one percent.
A key promise to draw the voters was in the health sector. The 15-page document signed by leaders of all the 10 Left Front constituents said a public health law would be formulated to ensure free treatment and prevention of common and life threatening diseases.
"As part of this law, special stress will be given on bringing each and every poor family under a health insurance net. "The government will enter into an agreement with the insurance companies and pay the premium amount," it said.
The Left Front also said that if voted back to power, at least one medical college and nursing college will be set up in every district in the next five years. "Our programme will be to set the state as number one in respect of human development index. Our aim is to increase the income of the people who are currently under the below poverty level and rise of the income of 40 lakh families," Bose said.
"Our target also is to increase employment of people living below the poverty line," said Bose, who is also the state secretary of Left Front major Communist Party of India - Marxist (CPI-M).
The manifesto also lambasted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for "staying mum on the issues of corruption and surrendering to the US imperialism". The manifesto said the funds for the development of tribals, Scheduled Castes and minorities will be doubled. The funds for the development of Sunderbans and western zone of the state will be doubled.
The Left Front, holding an uninterrupted 34 year reign, is facing the stiffest political challenge of its tenure in the coming six-phase polls beginning April on 18 and ending on May 10.
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