Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday released its much-awaited manifesto for the upcoming elections. It is disappointing that the vision of the grand old party’s manifesto is a far hark from facts.
Take, for instance, Rahul Gandhi’s statement that farm prices, investment and exports are at an all-time low.
The fact remains that under the present government minimum support prices for agricultural products have actually increased.
Similarly, foreign direct investment data over a decade and details relating to capital expenditure and capital formation have also fared better under the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) regime, which raises a question over the issues raised by the Congress chief.
The manifesto, while highlighting that it was the Congress party which launched liberalisation, promises to end tax terrorism.
Gandhi should, however, be reminded that it was the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government which changed tax legislation by overruling Supreme Court judgements. This then became a cause for national embarrassment.
Few matters went to arbitration and uncertainty over the tax position jeopardized the overall economic environment of the country.
Further, Congress couldn’t muster the courage to implement the Goods and Services Tax (GST) due to political considerations and have now promised to replace it with their version. A similar promise was also made about the Direct Tax Code, which they had earlier failed to give a blueprint of.
Taking credit of the victory in the 1965 and 1971 wars, the Congress should be reminded that it was because of Jawaharlal Nehru that we lost the 1962 war with China.
Additionally, Congress has been blaming Modi for taking the credit for the recent surgical strikes, which was taken forth by our defence forces. And if Modi can’t take the credit for the surgical strikes then the credit for the 1965 & 1971 wars should not go to the political leadership.
Recently, Rahul Gandhi announced that Rs. 72,000 will be given to 50 million poor families every year under the NYAY scheme. The scheme was also included within the manifesto. The Congress, however, hasn’t mentioned how they are going to achieve this including how the scheme will be funded.
Given the current fiscal scenario, it will be impossible for any party to implement such a scheme unless the budgetary allocations towards social schemes like SC/ST welfare, Ayushman Bharat, MNREGA etc. are slashed. Rahul Gandhi should bear the courage to tell the people if he is planning on curtailing the expenditure of other ministries including education, so the electorate can decide accordingly.
It is clear that if anyone wishes to implement such a scheme without cutting down other welfare schemes, then he will either have to increase the tax burden or be forced to borrow. The party’s economists should elucidate on how the NYAY scheme can be achieved.
If the party intends to increase the tax, then the businessmen and middle class should be informed. If Congress has plans to borrow money for funding this scheme, then economist bearing an allegiance with the grand old party should tell the market that they are not going to stick to the fiscal deficit target. As an accountable politician, Congress should also explain the perils of such plans and its impact on the economic stability of the country and then let the electorate decide what they want.
Improving infrastructure, rural development and a strong MSME sector are the prerequisites for the growth of an economy. Congress has little vision about these vital sectors and promises like increasing the length of national highways, electricity in the rural area, connecting villages under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana etc. hold no relevance because the NDA has already performed well in these aspects.
Rahul Gandhi has promised to increase the government expenditure in the infrastructure sector but I am worried we will be left with nothing to spend if his dream scheme is implemented.
The manifesto talks about passing a law on asylum, which is consistent with international treaties and conventions.
Is the Congress looking to legalise Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants by way of passing such a law? The manifesto promises to omit the Sedition law from the Indian Penal Code, review the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 and deploy armed forces in Jammu & Kashmir also need further explanations from the Congress leadership
The secular fabric of our country has been targeted time and again by Congress due to its divisive politics.
The party is still in no mood to learn its lesson and carries forth its minority appeasement agenda. Promises made about punishing hate crimes in the Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia cases are one among such attempts.
When we already have enough laws to tackle incidences like mob lynching then why did it merit a special mention?
Moreover, what does Congress suggest we do if a person from the majority community is lynched? If our constitution treats all citizens equally then why should there be any specific law on criminal matters pertaining to any one community?
Elections are an integral part of the democratic mechanism, and a clear vision based in truth only reinforces one’s belief in democracy.
(The author is a chartered accountant and anti-money laundering specialist. Views expressed here are personal).