Bengaluru: Burnishing its pro-farmer image, the Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) said on Monday it will waive Rs53,000 crore of farm loans within 24 hours of being voted to power.

“All agricultural loans, including crop loans, horticulture loans, and medium-term loans availed by the farmers of Karnataka will be waived off on a one-time basis," the party announced in its 66-page manifesto released on Monday.

The announcement follows a promise by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to waive all farmer loans of up to Rs1 lakh. All three major political parties of Karnataka —the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the JD(S)—have focused on the welfare of the state’s 40 million farmers ahead of the 12 May assembly elections.

JD(S), led by former prime minister H. D. Deve Gowda and his son H. D. Kumaraswamy, said it would also waive loans taken by weavers and artisans.

The party suggested long-term agrarian solutions such as setting up an agriculture production planning unit, supporting entrepreneurial research in agriculture, crop diversification and market linkage, as well as linking farmers with commodity exchanges.

The JD(S), which was the last among the three major political parties to release its manifesto for the 12 May elections in the state, announced that it would set aside Rs1.5 trillion on irrigation over the next five years.

The party has also stressed on sectors other than agriculture, including education, women empowerment, job creation and industrial development.

The party promised to give Rs2,000 per month to every woman above 24 who has been a resident of the state for at least 10 years, provided the woman’s income is not more than Rs5,000 per month and that she (together with her spouse) does not own more than 5 acres of land.

The party announced that it would introduce a system of issuing caste certificates, along with the marksheets of the 10th standard examinations.

The JD(S) also said it would introduce spoken Kannada and English in all government schools. It said that marks scored in Kannada in II year pre-university would be considered for calculating the Common Entrance Test (CET) rank for candidates seeking admission to medical, engineering, management and other technical courses and under the “Kannadiga" quota and “Horanadu Kannadiga" quota.

The JD(S) has also proposed policy level interventions to weed out corruption from public life, better interaction between the public and the government and the abolition of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB). Both the BJP and the JD(S) believe that Siddaramaiah had disempowered the anti-corruption watchdog, Lokayukta, and given more powers to the ACB, which comes directly under the chief minister’s office.

“JD(S) will stop the present practice of appointing retired officers to various positions in the state. Direct reappointment of retired officers to various positions will be prohibited," the party announced, referring to the appointment of Kempaiah, a retired Indian Police Service officer who was made advisor to the state home department.

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