Shimla: Employment allowance for youth, skill development to create job opportunities, free laptops to toppers of Board examinations and education loan at 4 per cent interest were promised by Congress in its manifesto for the upcoming Himachal Pradesh Assembly election.
    
On steps to combat corruption, the party vowed to ensure transparent and accountable government with zero tolerance to corruption and promised to investigate all scams that took place under the BJP government.
    
The manifesto released by Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma was, however, silent on issues like price rise, FDI in retail and special industrial package for the state.
With focus on youth, the manifesto promised unemployment allowance of Rs 1,000 to all unemployed youth possessing 10 plus two and graduation degrees with annual family income not exceeding Rs 2 lakh, while handicapped unemployed graduate youths will be given an unemployment allowance of Rs 1,500 per month.
    
It said if the party came to power, it would launch a skill development programme with an outlay of Rs 500 crore and create 1.00,000 job opportunities annually but made no reference of creation of new jobs in government and public sector.
    
Toppers of class X and class XII Board examinations would be given laptops free of cost while those standing first in Class VIII in every school would be given learning laptops, Sharma said.

A university dedicated to journalism and mass communication and nano technology centres will be set up in the state and loan for education for higher education would be advanced at 4 per cent interests to enable students to pursue higher and technical education.
    
The party, if returned to power, would formulate a new industrial policy for the state to attract investments and prepare a vision document for promoting food processing industry in a big way.

The manifesto also promised to construct an airport of international standards near Shimla to attract more tourists, especially high-end tourists.
    
To woo fruit growers, the manifesto said private investments would be encouraged to create infrastructure in integrated cold chains, grading and packaging and agro and food processing and efforts would be made to enhance import duty on foreign apples by including apple in the list of special category product to secure the interests of local growers.
    
Sharma said the UPA government gave funds worth thousands of crores to Himachal Pradesh government but it "misutilised and diversified" the fund, hitting the development of the state.

Himachal Congress showed a united face at the release of the manifesto with top leaders of the party sharing the dais.
    
Along with Sharma, who released the manifesto, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, HPCC president V B Singh, Leader of Opposition Vidya Stokes, AICC General Secretary Incharge
Barinder Chowdhary and former HPCC president Kaul Singh were present on the occasion.
    
However, Dikshit had to face a volley of questions regarding commission charged on Himachal fruit growers by middlemen at Azadpur Mandi.
    
Replying to which, Dikshit said the policy has been made keeping in view the arrival of agricultural produce from all parts of the country.
    
Himachal growers are being charged eight per cent commission at Azadpur market while the growers have been demanding that it should be charged from the buyers and sellers.

(Agencies)

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