Free WiFi at prominent public places, "pink toilets" for women and free water connections to all homes are among the key promises made in BJP's 'Sankalp Patra' released here today ahead of the Uttar Pradesh civic polls.
The polls are being seen as the first major electoral test for Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who unveiled the 'Sankalp Patra', a virtual poll manifesto, at the BJP headquarters here along with deputy chief ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma, state Urban Development minister Suresh Khanna and UP BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey.
At the event, Adityanath spoke about providing services transparently and without "partiality". However, opposition parties termed it as an eyewash, with the SP terming the Sankalp Patra as "Chhal Patra" (Document to befool the people). The Congress also accused the BJP of not fulfilling past promises.
"As many as 652 urban local bodies across the state are going to polls, the highest number so far. This includes 16 municipal corporations. Earlier, there were 12 municipal corporations in the state," Adityanath said.
He expressed happiness that the Ayodhya and Mathura- Vrindavan municipal corporations, constituted by his government, were going to polls for the first time.
The 'Sankalp Patra' comprises 28 promises (sankalp) including better drinking water facilities, improved street lighting, free community toilets, pink toilets for women, grant of Rs 20,000 for the construction of personal toilets, provision of adarsh nagar panchayat, e-tendering and 'kanji' houses for stray animals.
It also seeks to protect the interests of small shopkeepers, promises free water connections to every house, time-bound disposal of public grievances, proper bus service, clean environment, effective implementation of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, beautification of parks, house tax exemptions to freedom fighters and their dependents.
Development of cities as 'smart cities', better parking arrangements, auditoriums and exhibition grounds and awarding the best performing workers were among the other promises.
Adityanath said the state government had "ended partiality in power supply" in the state.
"In the urban areas of the state we have begun providing electrification to all households with focus on saving energy. In the unauthorised colonies, we have started the electrification process, and provided more than 20 lakh connections in these seven months. This has helped in curbing power theft," he said.
Adityanath added that all street lights in the urban areas of the state will be changed to LED lights. For this we have entered into an agreement with ESL and in the first phase the street lights in all the 16 municipal corporations will be changed, he said.
"Work in this regard has been completed in Varanasi and Allahabad, and is going on in Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Agra and Kanpur," he said.
Adityanath added that there will be no "corruption in the name of street lights", claiming it used to take place in the past.
"Rs 20,000 will be given for construction of personal toilets. Apart from this solid waste management will be strengthened. The door-to-door garbage collection system has started functioning in a few parts of the state. Our endeavour will be to increase its ambit, once the new urban local bodies under the leadership of the BJP begin functioning," Adityanath said.
On the issue of stray animals, the UP chief minister said that in the first phase, in 16 municipal corporations, along with one big 'gaushala', an old kanji house will be revived.
"In the 653 urban local bodies of the state, which are associated with traditional craft etc, we have come up with the concept of 'one district, one product' to promote these crafts and products. This will generate employment, and help urban local bodies to become economically self-reliant," he said.
The polls are important as far as the development of urban areas of the state is concerned, Adityanath said.
"So, when there is a BJP government at the Centre, at the state, and the urban local bodies are under BJP, then there will be no delay in development reaching the lower levels. The last person of the society had been deprived of the fruits of development and other civic amenities during the previous governments," the chief minister said.
Asked whether the civic election results will be seen as a referendum on the state government, Adityanath said, "We consider every election as an examination. But, the question is that opposition has already left the field."
He said the speed of developmental works would depend upon the constitution of the new urban local bodies.
"If the new urban local bodies are of the BJP, then there will be no problems, as the ideology will be the same. Else, like in the past there was government of rival party in the state. The Centre wanted to give funds for development..," he said.
UP BJP chief Pandey said the party was not contesting the polls merely to bag posts of mayors or corporators, but to ensure better quality of life to the people.
Reacting to the BJP's Sankalp Patra, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav in a statement said, "The BJP has come up with 'Chhal Patra' like the one, which it had brought in UP Assembly polls. There is no credibility as far as the sankalp patra is concerned. The people of the state have not forgotten the fact that promises made by BJP in the assembly elections have not been fulfilled."
UP Congress spokesperson Ashok Singh, said, "The BJP only believes in dramatics, and is not bothered to redress the problems of the public. As a result, you can see that the basic civic problems plaguing the people of the state are yet to be resolved. But, I am confident that the people of UP will teach a lesson to the BJP."
As many as 24 districts will go to polls on November 22, while 25 districts will go to polls on November 26, and 26 districts on November 29.
Counting of votes for 16 nagar nigams, 198 nagar palika parishads and 438 nagar panchayats will be done on December 1.
More than 3.32 crore voters will be eligible to cast their ballots at 36,269 polling booths and 11,389 polling stations.
The polls will be held eight months after the BJP came to power with a landslide victory in the state. Though, the BJP has traditionally been strong in urban constituencies, the acid test for Adityanath would be to match the performance of the Assembly elections.
In 2012, the BJP had swept mayoral polls, winning 10 of the 12 mayor posts. Lucknow mayor Dinesh Sharma is now a deputy chief minister of UP.