At the event, Mulayam Singh Yadav also ridiculed his political opponents, saying, “Some parties are there who have nothing to do.”
Ruling Samajwadi Party on Sunday released its manifesto for Uttar Pradesh assembly elections promising a bunch of schemes for all round development of the state at a function which SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav and his brother Shivpal gave a miss.
With an eye on development, Akhilesh riding on the crest of “kaam bolta hai” (work speaks) slogan, announced schemes which prioritise development of the state.
The manifesto announced distribution of laptops, Kanya Vidya Dhan, Samajwadi Pension, laying of Purvanchal Expressway, and establishing Janeshwar Mishra model villages besides improving helplines for police and women.
He said the model villages in the name of Janeshwar Mishra would be a tribute to the Samajwadi leader on his death anniversary on Sunday.
The chief minister, in his new role as the Samajwadi Party national president, directed all candidates to prepare a road map for development of their respective assembly constituencies.
A highlight of the manifesto was Samajwadi Kisan Kosh for farmers to purchase seeds and fertilisers, perhaps to match the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Bima Yojana.
As Mulayam and Shivpal, the warring uncle of Akhilesh, were conspicuous by their absence, senior SP leader Azam Khan rushed to the SP patriarch’s bungalow to bring him to the event. But even then Mulayam did not grace the occasion where senior party leaders and Dimple Yadav, MP and wife of the chief minister were present.
In an impassioned appeal to the electorate to vote SP back to power, Akhilesh said, “We got support on 2012 manifesto, we also fulfilled promises made in it.”
“The manifesto is a ‘sankalp’ (promise) to form future government. It’s clear that we all want to form Samajwadi Party government. If you work for 5 years, you will get government of five years,” he said.
The chief minister asked party workers to go to the masses and make them aware of the schemes implemented by his government during the past five years.
“A lot of work has been done in a big way. We have to work more in future. I tried for the past five years not to leave path of socialism and also ensure balanced development to improve rural economics,” he said.
Akhilesh also ridiculed his political opponents, saying, “Some parties are there who have nothing to do.”
He slammed BJP for its Lok Sabha poll promises and asked what happed to its ‘sab ka saath, sab ka vikas’ slogan.
“People are desperately looking for those who had promised achche din,” he said.
In a veiled attack on Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi, he said the Bharatiya Janata Party has nothing to speak on development. “They sometimes give you ‘jhadu’ (broom) or ask you to perform yoga,” he said.
Taking on the Bahujan Samaj Party, he claimed that the ‘Patthar Wali Sarkar’ has done nothing for UP except erecting stone statues of elephants, its poll symbol.
“If BSP comes to power, its government will install bigger elephant statues,” he alleged.
The 32-page SP manifesto promises 24 hour power supply to villages and effective dial 100 so that police reaches within 10-15 minutes.
“In days to come, the government will move one step forward and ensure better connect with people. Samajwadi smartphone scheme is one effort,” Akhilesh said, adding that already 1.40 crore registrations have been made for the same.
He said Samajawdi Party pension will benefit one crore people and Rs 1000 pension would be given to each one of them.
With an eye on the rural areas, he announced welfare schemes for labourers and added that poor women will be given pressure cookers.
The manifesto promised setting up of hostels for working women, mid-day meal for farm workers, free medical treatment to the poor and an end to ‘inspector raj’.
It promised expansion of metro rail in Kanpur, Agra and Meerut. It also promised air ambulance at Lucknow, ambulance for animals, free treatment to those with Rs 1.5 lakh annual income and one litre ghee a month to improve the health of malnourished children.
Akhilesh exuded confidence that his party will sweep 300 of the 403 seats, up from 224 it had won in 2017.
Referring to his dream project, Lucknow-Agra expressway, he said it has reduced the travel time considerably.
“Those who have travelled know it the best,” he said.
“If given chance, it (expressway) will reach Ghazipur and Ballia,” he said.
The SP manifesto also promised setting up of ‘mandi’ (market) and skill development centres in rural areas to give a boost to the state’s economy.
He said while SP was anxious for the state's development, BSP was preoccupied with bigger statues of elephants to surpass the huge statue of Janeshwar Mishra here or Shivaji statue in Maharashtra.
In an apparent reference to the ups and downs in the state politics, he turned philosophical and said, "Hame jaise jaise din dekhe the dekh liye, bahut kam samay mein...acche bure kharab sab dekh liye...
"Please tell me what is achche din...what is your definition of achche din...many times attempts were made to vitiate the atmosphere in the state...trust me again and let us form government. Balanced development will be carried forward...," he said.
Party vice president Kironmay Nanda said this assembly election is crucial and SP will form government for the second time.
"There is no alternative to SP. In 2012, the state was backward and election was fought on the face of 'netaji' (Mulayam). We implemented all the schemes promised by us. UP will become Uttam Pradesh in our next regime," Nanda said.
New slogans like "Jiska UP, Uska Desh; Bachcha Bachcha Akhilesh" (Country belongs to that party which rules UP, it is Akhilesh all over).
Akhilesh's wife Dimple attended the manifesto release function for the first time and posed with him donning the bright red SP cap.
Image: Akhilesh Yadav and his wife Dimple Yadav at the release of the party’s manifesto for the upcoming assembly polls at the party’s headquarters in Lucknow. Photograph: Pawan Kumar/Reuters