Free education for girls from kindergarten to higher education, 50 per cent quota for women in local bodies, re-opening of textile mills and setting up of textile parks were some of the proposals made in the BJP's poll manifesto unveiled here on Friday. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman released the manifesto titled 'BEST Puducherry' which meant Puducherry should become a 'business hub (B), education hub (E), spiritual hub (S) and tourism hub (T)'.
Some other proposals were: a 150-foot tall statue of Tamil poet Subramanian Bharathi, holding of world investors meet to attract investments for industrial development, steps to ameliorate the lot of poor fishermen, and development of ports and augmenting infrastructure. Sitharaman said all the schemes that had not seen the light of the day all these years would be implemented with full speed if the BJP formed the government here after the April 6 Assembly election.
She said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen that the Union Territory of Puducherry should develop and progress in every sector. "The manifesto has been prepared after enlisting the views of a cross-section of the people," she said.
She said just like the farmers producers organisations ensuring reasonable remuneration to the ryots for their produce, a fishermen's producers organisation would be set up in Puducherry. She said the fishermen in coastal belt here would be relieved of their hardships and during lean periods, a comprehensive welfare programme would be adopted for the betterment of fishermen.
The Union Minister expressed anguish over the government that was in power here had neglected the fishing harbour and since 2009, dredging operations were not taken up and consequently formation of sand and silt had rendered fishing operations impossible. She said the welfare of fishermen and also the poorer sections would be taken care of once a BJP government was formed in Puducherry.
The Prime Minister had also been firm about ameliorating the lot of the fishermen and a separate Ministry for fisheries had also been created and its Minister Giriraj Singh was now on a tour of Karaikal. She urged party functionaries to go door to door and hand over copies of the manifesto to the people explaining to them the need for the lotus (party symbol) to blossom in Puducherry.
Territorial Minister A Namassivayam, who joined the BJP after quitting the Congress in January, received the first copy of the manifesto from Sitharaman..