Days after releasing a separate manifesto, a Sankalp Patr, for the municipal polls, a first for any party in the state, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Tuesday kicked-off his poll campaign. His first stop was politically and symbolically significant, Ayodhya, which was elevated to the status of a municipal corporation after the BJP came to power in March.The Bharatiya Janata Party is going all out to campaign for the urban body polls in Uttar Pradesh in a bid to replicate the thumping win it registered in the Assembly elections eight months ago.Mr. Adityanath is expected to address more than three dozen rallies for the municipal polls, in a style similar to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign strategy.Addressing a rally in Ayodhya, Mr. Adityanath accused the previous Samajwadi Party government of neglecting it and of trying to restrict and tarnish the “pehchaan” (identity) and grandeur of the town in the eyes of the world. Those who “discriminated with your identity”, can never be forgiven, he told voters in Ayodhya.Mocking the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, Mr. Adityanath said the two parties were struck by “electric current” each time he visited Ayodhya.“Ayodhya is a symbol of faith for us. Ayodhya is the land of maryada purshottam Shri Ram…Ayodhya should get back its glory,” the Chief Minister said. Traditionally strong in urban areas, the BJP secured 10 of the 12 mayor posts in 2012.This time mayoral elections will be held for 16 posts, with the inclusion of four new seats including Mathura (Vrindavan) and Ayodhya, names emphasized by Mr. Adityanath in his speech.While mentioning that his government had already inaugurated development projects worth ₹ 137 crore in Ayodhya, Mr. Adityanath promised more schemes after the polls. He claimed credit for restoring grand Diwali celebrations in Ayodhya and said that his government’s priority was to make the town “shine” and bring a smile to the face of every person who visited it. “Ayodhya gave Diwali to the world but Diwali disappeared from Ayodhya. We restored it,” he said.While appealing for votes for the BJP candidates, Mr. Adityanath followed up on the promise made by his party in the manifesto and said that a gaushala would be built in all major cities cater to stray cattle.After Ayodhya, Mr. Adityanath is expected to hold campaign rallies in all major centres of UP, including Kanpur, Varanasi, Allahabad, Muzaffarnagar, Gorakhpur, Jhansi, Lucknow and Mathura, with more than two rallies per day on average.Polls would be held for over 650 posts, including 16 Mayors and 200 Nagar Palika Parishads, starting November 22 in three phases. Results will be declared on December 1.
The Rajasthan government’s new flagship Annapurna Milk Scheme for supplying milk thrice in a week to about 62 lakh children studying in the State-run schools is set to increase the burden on teachers, who are already performing a number of tasks in addition to their main work of imparting education.Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje launched the scheme at the Government Model Senior Secondary School at Dahmi Kalan, near here, on Monday, barely five months before the Assembly elections due later this year. The scheme is considered one of the biggest ones initiated by the BJP government. Ms. Raje affirmed at the launch ceremony that the Annapura Scheme would lay the foundation for the State’s happy and healthy future. “Every child in the government schools will get fresh, pure and nutritious warm milk three days a week. This will improve nutritional levels among children and help increase enrolments,” she said.Women’s cooperativesThe Chief Minister said the women’s milk producers’ cooperative societies would be entrusted with the task of supplying milk to schools. “This will ensure good quality of milk, as mothers do not compromise on the quality of their children’s milk,” Ms. Raje remarked.62 lakh studentsUnder the scheme to be implemented with a budget allocation of ₹218 crore, about 62 lakh students in 66,506 government schools will be provided warm milk as part of the mid-day meals. Students till Class V will get 150 ml of warm milk thrice a week, while those studying in Classes VI to VIII will get 200 ml.Teachers of government schools will be involved in the purchase of milk from the milk cooperative societies and distribution to the students. With crucial questions on the flagship scheme’s proper implementation coming up, the Rajasthan Shikshak Sangh (Shekhawat) said while the schools were understaffed, the teachers would be “overburdened” with new responsibilities.“The milk will be served without sugar because no extra budget has been allotted for it. The teachers will be burdened with the additional work of storing and boiling the milk. It will affect the standard of education and may lead to dropout of students,” Shikshak Sangh spokesperson Prakash Mishra said.Perishable itemSince milk is a perishable item and there is an inadequate infrastructure in the schools, the teachers will be unwilling to take on the extra responsibility. Mr. Mishra said the scheme would in fact encourage privatisation of education, as the Right to Education Act was being violated “with impunity” in the State.