From turning the recently decommissioned Indian warship INS Viraat into a warfare museum to granting scholarships to meritorious students of debt-ridden farmers and from making rain water harvesting compulsory for housing societies to encouraging malls to recycle water, the population of Maharashtra has given a wish list to state Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar. Good public health system, availability of clean toilets every five km, healthy mid-day meals for children and decent facilities for tribal children are also some of the prominent demands made by the citizens of Maharashtra. This is the fourth year when the BJP has held public consultations throughout the state to know the wishes of the people for the welfare of the state. The difference this time – the campaign was held online by the party’s chief spokesperson Madhav Bhandari.

“Each year, prominent leaders of the BJP hold public consultations in various districts to know the demands of the people from the state budget. This time, we made an online appeal to people. Around 10 days ago, we sought people’s suggestions on Facebook, twitter and WhatsApp. We also appealed to people to email us their suggestions. The response was overwhelming. We received 8,000 responses on Facebook, twitter and WhatsApp. We also received 250 e-mails. Our team then sat together to discard the repetitions. We compiled the entire list of important demands, and handed it over to the Finance Minister. He has assured us to look into these demands,” Bhandari told The Sunday Guardian.

Under his leadership, the party has also conducted a study on the unfulfilled promises of the 2014 election manifesto declared by the BJP. “Around a week ago, I handed over the list to Sudhirbhau, about the issues from our election manifesto which have not yet been addressed,” he said. But he refused to divulge the details of it.

Among the prominent demands made by the citizens of the state for inclusion in this budget are Mediclaim policy for farmers and BPL citizens, storage facility within municipal limits for farmers so that they can directly approach consumers. There have also been suggestions for formation of a special Skill Development Council. Many want skill development counselling centres opened in the state. Some have also demanded special funding for the skill enhancement of specially-abled persons.

“Fund allocation to agriculture universities should be increased with specific provisions for research with respect to new technologies, to improve crop production and also to help farmers plan for alternative approach for variations in annual rainfall. Children/kin of farmers who are meritorious but unable to bear the cost of foreign education, should be given scholarships on behalf of the state government so they could pursue education in foreign universities,” the wish list says.

Seeking special emphasis on nurturing of good sports talent, some have demanded that “special group of athletes be identified and trained according to the sports shortlisted for 2020 Olympics and a separate fund be kept for this purpose. National level and state level athletes must also be given job assurances”. Focus on infrastructure development and asset building to create a long-term structure for sports development in the state and subsidised medical and educational facilities for sportspersons, are also part of the wish list. Corporates participating in promoting sports should be given additional benefits with respect to CSR/taxes. Sports related courses should be started and encouraged at school and university level.”

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