By Our Reporter, TNT News | Shillong, Feb 24, 2018:
Just days before Meghalaya goes to polls, the Congress finally released its manifesto in three places simultaneously — Shillong, Jowai and Tura on Saturday.
The manifesto in Shillong was released by AICC general secretary incharge of Meghalaya, CP Joshi while in Tura, it was released by Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma and in Jowai, it was released by Shillong MP Vincent Pala.
Interestingly, during the release of the manifesto in Shillong, AICC general secretary incharge of Meghalaya, CP Joshi refused to discuss the content of the manifesto and take part in the question and answer session with the press.
According to the manifesto, the Congress highlighted the achievements of the government in the last 8 years besides pledging to set a new benchmark of transparent and effective public delivery system and voiced its commitment to enhance health care facilities, education, youth and women empowerment, infrastructure, environment, education, interstate border, influx & illegal immigration and law & order.
The Congress pledged to bring about a change in agriculture by encouraging sustainable agriculture and gradual shift to natural and organic farming. It also pledged to provide job spaces to youth and women through the enterprise facilitation centres through the introduction of an entrepreneurship program through digital business (ETDB) to nurture young mind as digital entrepreneurs.
Highlighting its achievements, the Congress stated that it has managed to achieve many milestones like the introduction of various programmes in the field of agriculture, horticulture, livelihood, education, health, women empowerment, law & order and governance like the enforcement of the Social Audit Act.
In as far as the age-old interstate boundary dispute is concerned, the party pledged to strive to arrive at mutually acceptable solution to resolve the problems pertaining to areas of difference along Assam-Meghalaya border.
Interestingly, this decade old problem has remained a cause of concern for the residents in the border areas and for the past 8 years since the Congress was in power, no substantial solution could be arrived at despite the fact that the party was in power 5 years ago both in Meghalaya and Assam.
In the mining sector, the Congress, which has been alleged of being a mute spectator to the plight of the people who depends on mining for their livelihood following the NGT ban in 2014, claimed to have handled the situation effectively by adopting several strategies like seeking to formalize the mining industry via appropriate mechanisms, streamlining the system by getting all the relevant permission for the implementation of the new policy.
Earlier, the United Democratic Party (UDP) had alleged the Congress government of brushing aside and sitting on top of the ready-made and final draft of the mining policy which includes views and suggestions of stakeholders from all sections way back when there was a coalition government in the state between the Congress and UDP in the state.
On the other hand, the BJP in its Vision Document has assured to resolve the mining issue within 180 days after forming the government, though the assurances have been termed as false promises by both the Congress and UDP.
However, the Congress made no specific mention about how they were going to resolve the problem if they come back to power.
Furthermore, the Congress promised to continue supplementing its efforts in making Meghalaya a national educational hub in Northeast India and proposed to strengthen the entire elementary education system and ensure zero dropout rate and provide universal elementary education to fulfill the constitutional goal under Right to Education Act.
It also promised to encourage private players to start professional, technical and vocational courses in the state besides maintaining that in the realms of higher education, 10 private universities have already been approved by enactment of separate Acts.
The congress also proposes to establish polytechnics in all districts and to augment the ‘JodoGyan’ initiative — an innovative learning enhancement project and start start new programmes.
Furthermore, the Congress assured to set up exclusive market for women at Shillong, Tura, and Jowai, where the retailers shall all be women.
In the infrastructure sector, the Congress ensures to promote road and air connectivity while emphasizing on its intention to construct helipads in all district headquarters and the major tourist destinations and connect them through helicopter taxi service.
It also proposes to kick start the implementation of Mono Rail in Shillong, the survey of which it claimed has been completed. Similarly, it assured to conduct a feasibility survey to check for the viability of cable cars as a mode of low cost short distance transportation in the state.
Interestingly, the Congress made no assurances of connecting the capital city Shillong with the rest of the country via railways, the issue of which, the Chief Minister had last year impressed upon to promote tourism. The issue died out last year itself following oppositions from several quarters.
In as far as influx and illegal immigration is concerned, the Congress made no specific mention on how it plans to resolve this matter except a point where it maintained to stay committed to complete the process of placing a comprehensive measure to address the issue of influx and illegal immigration to ensure that the demographic structure of the state is not disturbed. Meanwhile, no assurances of enforcing the Inner Line Permit (ILP) (a long-pending demand of several pressure groups) featured in the manifesto.