The Congress party on Tuesday released its manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Congress President Rahul Gandhi and senior party leaders released the document.
The manifesto will reflect the people’s voice and not just one man’s view, Gandhi had said before releasing the document.
The manifesto is titled “Hum Nibhayenge” or “We will deliver”. “We have delivered the voice of the people,” Gandhi said after releasing the manifesto. “We have been hearing a large number of lies spoken everyday by our prime minister,” he said. “Nothing in the manifesto is a lie.”
Gandhi said the highlight of the party’s manifesto is the proposed minimum income guarantee scheme or NYAY. Under the scheme, the poorest 20% families of the country will get an income support of Rs 72,000 per annum. The scheme was first announced on March 25.
The prime minister had promised to deposit Rs 15 lakh in everyone’s account, which was a lie, he said. The Congress chief dismissed criticism from the Bharatiya Janata Party which said the minimum income guarantee scheme was “not doable”. “I agree it is not doable for the BJP, but it is doable for the Congress,” Gandhi said, according to Hindustan Times.
The party will work towards improving public healthcare. “We will ensure the poor have access to high quality health care,” he said. The manifesto promised to double expenditure on healthcare to 3% of GDP by 2023-’24 and to enact the Right to Healthcare Act.
Gandhi proposed to present a separate farmers’ budget. “Businessmen take loans and then flee the country...But when a farmer takes a loan and is unable to repay, he is charged with criminal offence. But we have decided to consider it as a civil offence and not criminal one,” he said.
The manifesto also proposed to establish a permanent National Commission on Agricultural Development and Planning.
Gandhi said a government led by Congress would focus on national security. He claimed the Bharatiya Janata Party has spread hate in the last five years. “The casualties of terrorism is going up,” he said.
Gandhi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had mocked the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and said it was a bogus scheme. “Today everyone knows how much it helped the country,” Gandhi said. “So now we want to guarantee jobs for 150 days, instead of 100 days, under the scheme,” he said, according to ANI.
Congress leader Rajeev Gowda said the party had reached out to Indians through public consultation and closed door discussions to prepare the manifesto.
Former Union minister P Chidamabaram says the contents of the manifesto are the millions of voices the party heard during its consultation with a large number of citizens. “The idea is to set the narrative for 2019,” he said. “The party president has already set the narrative. BJP is trying to seize the narrative..the narrative of polarisation, divisiveness and hyper-nationalism. The real issues are employment, farmer distress, women and their security, among other issues,” he said.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says the manifesto sums up the aspirations of the people of India to lead a life of dignity.
Highlights from the manifesto
- Ensures 34 lakh jobs in the public sector by filling four lakh central government vacancies before March 2020, persuading state governments to fill 20 lakh vacancies and creating around 10 lakh new Seva Mitra positions in gram panchayats and urban local bodies.
- Fillip to private sector by rewarding businesses for job creation, employing more women and requiring businesses with over 100 employees to implement apprenticeship programme.
- Promises to present a “Kisan Budget” every year and establish a permanent National Commission on Agricultural Development and Planning. The party also promised remunerative prices, lower input costs and access to institutional credit for farmers.
- Promises to enact Right to Healthcare Act and double expenditure on healthcare to 3% of GDP by 2023-’24.
- Promises to make school education from Class 1 to Class 12 in public schools free and compulsory and double the allocation for education to 6% of GDP by 2023-’24.
- To pass Women’s Reservation Bill in the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha, reserving 33% seats for women in the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies and reserve 33% in all posts or vacancies in the central government.
- Omit Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code that defines the offence of sedition “that has been misused...and has become redundant”. Omit Section 499 and make defamation a civil offence.
- Amend the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 in order to “strike a balance between the powers of security forces and the human rights of citizens”.
- To implement the Forest Rights Act. “No forest dweller will be unjustly evicted,” the document said.
- Promises to end mob violence and lynching, and prevent hate crimes and atrocities against Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, minorities and women.
- Pass a law on privacy, restrict the use of Aadhaar to to its original purposes
- Revitalise institutions that were “brazenly undermined in the last five years” like the Reserve Bank of India, Election Commission, Central Information Commission and Central Bureau of Investigation.
- Action agenda to fight for environmental protection, against global warming and strengthen the National Clean Air Programme.