Rahul Gandhi's NYAY at the heart of UDF's election manifesto

Rahul Gandhi's pet Minimum Income Guarantee Scheme, Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY), will be implemented if the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) comes to power in Kerala. The radical offer is the highlight of the poll manifesto released jointly by UDF leaders on Saturday. 

As promised earlier by Congress leaders the manifesto also assures of a special legislation to protect the traditional practices at the Sabarimala temple.

Another key promise is about a monthly cash aid of Rs 2,000 to homemakers. Housewifes aged between 40 and 60 will be eligible for the social security pension. 

Another novel proposal is of 'bill-less hospitals' across Kerala, a promise aimed to allay concerns about healthcare costs. 

The UDF also promises Minimum Support Price of Rs 250 for rubber and Rs 30 for paddy. 

The refreshing poll manifesto stresses on social welfare and stands out for radical and innovative measures aimed at transforming the state. It was drafted by a panel led by Shashi Tharoor, MP. 

Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala touted the UDF document as the people's manifesto aimed at taking Kerala to global best standards. 

Other key highlights:

1. The monthly social security pension will be raised to Rs 3,000. Currently, the state hands out Rs 1,600 as a monthly pension for about 52 lakh persons under different categories, with the centre contributing between Rs 300 and Rs 500 as its share.

2. A Welfare Pension Commission will be established on the lines of the Pay Revision Commission, states the manifesto.

3. The UDF also sought to resolve the problems that PSC rank holders face and assured that efforts will be taken to ensure their employment.

4. The popular Karunya healthcare scheme terminated by the current state government will be revived.

5. A new housing scheme will be framed after rectifying the flaws in the existing LIFE Mission that is tasked with providing shelter to landless and homeless people in Kerala. 

6. A peace and happiness department too is a novel offer in the state. This would be on the lines of the peace and non-violence department unveiled by the Congress government in Rajasthan to coincide with the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in 2019.

7. The UDF would make legislation to take over around 5.5 lakh acres from the illegal possession of private firms, and it would be accorded to landless Dalits and tribespeople.

8. A six-lane road connecting Kasaragod with Thiruvananthapuram would be constructed. While guaranteeing the introduction and implementation of a special agriculture budget, the manifesto also promised to write-off agriculture loans up to Rs 2 lakh-- availed before the 2018 floods--by farmers holding less than five acres.

9. The manifesto also promised the setting up of no-bill hospitals across the state to provide free treatment. Insurance cover for all, free sanitary napkins for schoolgirls, an allowance of Rs 3,000 each for six months after delivery for unemployed mothers from scheduled-caste communities, were also promised in the manifesto.

10. The UDF would also repeal the ban on construction activities imposed under the 1964 and 1994 rules based on the Kerala Government Land Assignment Act, 1960.

11. A law would be enacted to punish those showing laxity in probing child-abuse cases.

12. Title deeds to all eligible people residing in hilly regions, steps to exclude residential areas and farms within forests from buffer zones, implementation of the Forest Rights Act, re-commence the housing project for scheduled caste and tribes, were among the promises made in the manifesto.

13. Wine policy: The UDF also promised a policy for making wine. A rubber company based on the CIAL-model would be founded. The manifesto also mooted the creation of a State Vigilance Commission to eradicate corruption.

14. Sops for fishers: The amount being set aside for the construction of houses for SC-ST communities and fishermen would be increased to Rs 6 lakh. The fishers would be offered subsidized fuel. A special remuneration scheme for fishermen would be implemented to help them on days they could not venture into the sea. Title deeds would be distributed to all coastal residents.

14. Light metro: The manifesto also promised to implement the light metro projects in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode. Besides, a special package for Kuttanad, six-month maternity leave for women in the unorganized sector, interest-free loans to women entrepreneurs, and an ‘annam’ project to provide moderately priced food in cities were also included.

15. A healthcare plan for pensioners, insurance for auto-taxi workers, ESI cover for Anganwadi employees, coupons for students to buy laptops were also listed among the promises.

16. Aid for Covid victims’ kin: The manifesto also envisaged a stimulus package to rejuvenate the Covid-hit Kerala. The families of Covid victims, including NRKs, would be offered financial aid. The UDF also promised the creation of a Covid Management Commission.

The manifesto also promised the setting up of Ayurveda, Nursing, Arabic and Sports universities in the State.

17. Loans up to Rs 2 lakh availed by the guardians of seriously handicapped children and bed-ridden patients would be written off. 

18. The manifesto also promised more scholarships for pursuing education both within the country and abroad. It also offered a three-year financial support to unemployed girls, who had completed MPhil or PhD.

19. A new law will be brought in to ensure government services in a time-bound manner. All benefits now given to industries would be extended to the tourism sector also. Investors in tourism and commercial sectors would get relaxation in repaying loans.

20. A sub-plan, modelled on the Special Component Plan for scheduled castes and Tribal Sub-Plan for scheduled tribes, would be initiated for the benefit of artisans, and those in the fisheries sector.

The Congress manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls had introduced the radical social welfare scheme NYAY for the  ‘poorest families'. A minimum income of Rs 6,000 per month or Rs 72,000 a year was promised by the party ahead of the parliament election. NYAY was conceptualised and promoted by the then Congress President Rahul Gandhi, who is now an MP representing the Wayanad constituency in Kerala. 

The UDF manifesto was released by a bevy of senior leaders representing the opposition combine.

UDF convener Benny Behanan, MP, announced the key proposals soon after unveiling the manifesto.

The Kerala Legislative Assembly election is to be held on April 6.

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