Narendra Modi unveils please-all BJP manifesto for polls, vows 50L homes, sops for 'neo-middle class'

Narendra Modi

Tempering his pro-industry image, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today released the BJP's election manifesto that promises a slew of measures for the uplift of farmers, rural and urban poor and all-inclusive growth.

Releasing the manifesto just 10 days ahead of the first phase of polling scheduled on December 13, Modi also promised to address the issues facing the "neo-middle class", which has risen above the poverty line but cannot yet be categorised as middle class, to enable it reap the benefits of government's welfare schemes.

The manifesto pledged to strengthen agricultural infrastructure and said, if voted to power again, the government would bear 3 per cent of the 7 per cent interest paid by farmers who took agricultural loans.

"Due to development in Gujarat in the last 10 years, there has been substantial rise in this neo-middle class. We want to address their issues. We will form a committee to define this neo middle class. We will try to give them benefits of government schemes," Modi told reporters after releasing the manifesto.

In an apparent bid to counter the Congress' poll assurance of providing land and houses at affordable rates to rural and urban poor respectively, the BJP manifesto said 50 lakh new houses would be constructed for them over the next five years.

Congress' promised scheme of low-cost housing had drawn huge response from the people with thousands queueing up in urban and rural areas to get the forms distributed by the party.

However, when asked if his promise of 50 lakh houses for the poor was aimed at countering the Congress' assurance, Modi evaded a direct reply, saying many parties like Lok Janshakti Party and JD(U) have also released their manifestos.

"Before the last elections, we had promised 20 lakh houses and before this polls, we are promising 50 lakh houses," he said.

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