The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Secular Naveen for social security

Bhubaneswar, March 27: BJD chief Naveen Patnaik today promised to provide security to all communities to perform religious programmes and pay special attention to development of education, health, economy and culture of minority communities.

The promises were made in the party manifesto released by the chief minister at its head office here this afternoon.

In a bid to salvage the secular image of the BJD, sullied after the Kandhamal communal violence in August-September last year, the back cover page of the manifesto carried the quote of Naveen: “Each bone of my body is secular”.

The party manifesto also listed the measures taken by his government for development of minorities which included grant-in-aid to all schools, colleges and health centres run by Christian organisations, grant for repair/reconstruction of all religious institutions like church, temple and mosques damaged during communal riots, allotment of land for construction of Haz Bhavan, regularisation of Urdu teachers in madarsa, grant to teachers of 87 madarsas and introduction of gratuity, pension, provident fund for teachers in 78 madarsas.

This is seen by political observers as a move by the regional party to garner minority votes following its parting with the “communal” BJP and Sangh Parivar.

Recently, the party had blamed the BJP and Sangh Parivar for the Kandhamal violence, which led to the death of at least 43 people, mostly Christians.

The party also assured people of the state at least one square meal a day, if it comes to power for the third consecutive term after May 16.

Releasing the 40-page manifesto of the party in Oriya, Naveen said: “We resolve that no one in the state will be allowed to go hungry.” Orissa continues to be the poorest state with 47 per cent of its population living below the poverty line.

The regional party, which ruled the state for nine consecutive years, expressed its determination to provide free power to the agriculture sector, if it came to power once again. “Our party, named after the visionary, Biju Patnaik, has striven hard for a prosperous and progressive Orissa,” he said.

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