In an attempt to woo its traditional vote bank including the minority community and people belonging to backward and most backward castes, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) today went all out in its Lok Sabha poll manifesto promising a plethora of initiatives for them.
The manifesto promises ending the contractual system of employment in the state and regularising teachers, anganbari sevikas, assistants, computer operators, drivers, engineers, doctors, home guards and others working on contract.
Foremost among its poll promises, RJD said it will provide reservation to the minority community in jobs and educational opportunities in government and semi-government institutions.
Releasing the party manifesto, RJD president Lalu Prasad said, "apart from reservation to the minority community in jobs and education, we will also bring changes into Article 341 to ensure scheduled caste status to Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians."
The RJD manifesto also promises to implement the suggestions of Sachar Committee and Ranganath Mishra Committee for the minorities. Urdu teachers will be compulsorily appointed in private schools, and an anti-riot force with proper representation of minorities in it would be formed.
"The cases of Muslim youths who are languishing in jail for a long time in the name of terrorism will be reviewed and efforts will be made to provide justice to them," Prasad said.
The RJD said they will provide reservation to people belonging to Extremely Backward Castes (EBC) in private sector and judicial services.
The party promised to initiate sincere efforts to provide to SC and ST status to 14 castes in EBC category. These include boatmen, barbers, carpenters, potters, gardeners, ironsmiths and Chandravanshis.
The RJD manifesto also talked about creating 'scheduled castes and scheduled tribes authority' in the state for their development.
"The RJD supports reservation to women. We believe in extending it to women in different caste and communities on the basis of their proportion in the population," he said.
Trying to please contractual workers employed by the state, RJD state president Ramchandra Purvey, who read aloud from the manifesto, emphasised that the party will remove the contractual system of employment.
Apart from wooing its traditional vote bank, the RJD did not leave untouched the major socio-economic issues.
It talked about banning the sale of liquor in a phased manner in the state. Sale of liquor through over 5,000 government licensed shops across Bihar has got much flak over last few years. RJD also promised free electricity to farmers and Below Poverty Line (BPL) people.
The manifesto said Right To Employment will be brought for the youth and a commission for them will be constituted to formulate a 'National Youth Policy'.
Talking about employment opportunities in general, the manifesto said that food processing, industrial development and traditional industry like handloom and handicraft would be encouraged with the help of modern techniques to create more jobs.
"We will also make positive efforts to check inflation. Focus will be on decentralised economy with labour-intensive industries, encouragement to investment and exports and increase in agricultural production for this," Prasad said.
The manifesto promised, "Higher education will be made autonomous. Patna University will be given the status of Central University and IIM and another branch of AIIMS will be opened in Bihar."
Lambasting chief minister Nitish Kumar for raising the demand for special status to Bihar, Prasad said it was RJD which had first demanded it.
"We have been seeking special status and special package for Bihar since it was divided in April 2000. In fact Bihar Legislative Assembly had unanimously passed resolutions for it twice on April 25, 2000 and then on April 2, 2002," he said.
The RJD president said the then chief minister Rabri Devi had demanded special status at Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's public meeting in Patna on February 2, 2002.
The issue was taken up for discussion in the Lok Sabha on May 16, 2002, he added.
"Nitish Kumar was at the Centre that time and asked Atal ji not to accord special status to Bihar else Rabri Devi will get its credit. Nitish did not get a single paisa for Bihar. Whatever the state got was due to our efforts. He started raking the issue of special status when his party Janata Dal (United) failed on all fronts," Prasad claimed.
Prasad pointed out that he had brought Rail Wheel Factory at Dariyapur and diesel locomotive factory at Marhaura in Saran district, as well as, electric locomotive factory at Madhepura during his tenure as the Railway Minister in the UPA-1 government.
"Communal forces want to divide the nation. There is a 1947 type situation in India and it will either survive of break-up. BJP is just a mask of RSS and is trying to implement the communal agenda. They have cleverly tried to sideline the issue of communalism by talking about corruption," he said.
Terming BJP as a party which 'indulges in riots', the RJD president appealed to the business class not to support it as riots destroy businesses and business environment.
"The BJP has insulted Lord Shiva by shouting 'Har Har Modi'. RJD has its own slogans 'Dhar Dhar Modi' (Catch Modi) and 'Gadbad Modi' (Problem Modi) to counter it," said the RJD chief amid peels of laughter from his supporters who had gathered at the manifesto release function.