Modi mimics Cong, offers 50 lakh houses

Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Monday released the BJP's manifesto announcing a housing department to be headed by himself which would build 50 lakh homes in rural and urban areas at the cost of Rs 33,000 crore.

Although housing dominated the press conference, tucked away in the list of promises was one about modernising madrassas. The manifesto document says, "Literacy among Gujarat's Muslims is 73.5 per cent, which is much higher than the national rate of 59 per cent. We plan to raise the quality of education by the medium of technology to help bring Muslims into the mainstream education and modernise madrassas."

The manifesto, called Sankalp Patra, focuses on agriculture and middle class empowerment. It also promises accident insurance to all six crore of Gujaratis and an Act, to be called Right to Services (RTS), to ensure people get rightful services from the government.

Terming the housing scheme as Mukhya Mantri Gruh Samruddhi Yojana, BJP said it would be executed on public-private partnership (PPP) basis. The manifesto document says there will be "relief on land rates and floor space index (FSI) as incentives" in the execution of the project.

Announcing the scheme that is being seen as a counter to Congress's Ghar Nu Ghar (own your house) scheme promised in its vision document, Modi coined a new term, "neo-middle class", for people who had risen just above the poverty line.

BJP has promised two kinds of homes - 7.5 lakh units of 387 sq feet (built-up area) each for slum-dwellers and an equal number of the same size for economically weaker sections and 3.5lakh units of 538 sq feet each for neo-middle class. Twenty-eight lakh houses will be built in rural areas and 22 lakh in urban areas. All rural areas will have pucca houses, BJP leaders said.

At the press conference, Modi was accompanied by BJP's national vice-president Purshottam Rupala, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitely, Gujarat BJP president Ranchoddas Faldu and state's Industries Minister Saurabh Patel.

Modi said his government had built 22 lakh houses in the past 10 years against 12 lakh houses built by Congress in the previous 40 years. "We are quoting a figure of 50 lakh new houses to give a clear idea of what BJP plans to do," the CM added.

Modi mimics Cong, offers 50 lakh houses

Asked about Congress's similar scheme, Modi said, "Every other party is making claims to provide housing."

Congress's 12-point agenda, which included the Ghar nu Ghar scheme mainly aimed at women, had offered three categories of houses for people to pick as per their spending power. A category was worth Rs 70,000 (278 sq feet), B category worth Rs 1 lakh (543 sq feet) and C worth Rs 1.8 lakh (857 sq ft). The average cost of houses promised by BJP comes to around Rs 66,000 per unit.

Reacting to BJP's manifesto, Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said, "Our housing scheme will be executed by revamping the Gujarat Housing Board and the Slum Clearance Board, while BJP's plan announced on a PPP model will benefit builders."

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