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Kerala Assembly Elections | LDF manifesto balances growth, social welfare

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The Left Democratic Front (LDF) election manifesto released on Friday promised increased spending on social welfare, health and education.

It pledged modernised transport and urban infrastructure, industrial corridors, high-speed rail connectivity, free housing for the poor, enhanced social welfare pensions, improved public services, better child and elderly care, rapid re-skilling of unemployed youth and creation of a knowledge-based world-class economy.

LDF convener A. Vijayaraghavan said reversing inequality, protecting secular and progressive values, defending federalism, raising the standard of living, and building a welfare State were the overarching political imperatives of the front.

The LDF would increase monthly welfare pension from ₹1,600 to ₹2,500. An estimated 60 lakh persons would benefit. It would include homemakers in the expanded pension net.

Also read: Kerala Assembly Elections | LDF confident of 1977 repeat; UDF faces leadership hitch

Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes people would get free and modern housing.

The LDF announced special schemes to rehabilitate Gulf returnees and further bolster the public distribution system.

It promised 40 lakh new employment opportunities, a ₹5,000-crore coastal development package, welfare schemes for taxi and autorickshaw drivers, coir and agriculture workers, traditional seafaring fishers, toddy tappers and cashew workers. A 50% hike in farm wages is a key election promise.

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The manifesto emphasised the State’s tourism potential. It projected future Kerala as a Mecca of liberal arts, a magnet for creative persons and an oasis of secular and progressive values.

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The LDF manifesto strived to shore up its core base while attempting to woo on-the-fence voters as it approached a tight three-cornered electoral contest on April 6.

The open-handed blend of increased social welfare benefits with stress on infrastructure development, reservation for economically disadvantaged forward community persons, resistance to majoritarian politics and strident opposition to the Centre’s “trespasses” against federalism lie at the heart of the LDF’s election pitch.

Other key LDF pledges included 18,000 new start-ups, an industrial investment totalling ₹10,000 crore, creation of an electronic and pharmaceutical hub, 60% increase in agriculture income, piped drinking water for households, universal broad-band internet coverage at an affordable rate, women empowerment, emphasis on water transport, environment protection, insulating the State against the ravages of climate change and hunger, and corruption-free State.

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