Congress Manifesto: NYAY, Jobs and Kisan Budget in Focus as Rahul Gandhi Promises Wealth and Welfare
Rahul Gandhi also promised changes in the legal system to ensure that loan defaults by farmers constitute civil offence and not a criminal one.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi and senior party leader Sonia Gandhi during the release of the party's manifesto for Lok Sabha polls, in New Delhi on April 2, 2019. (PTI Photo)
New Delhi: With just over a week to go before the start of the first phase of Lok Sabha polls, Congress released its manifesto 'Hum Nibhayenge' in a grand show in the capital on Tuesday.
The NYAY scheme and its complementary slogan, probably the first from Congress for this election season, Garibi Par Vaar, 72 Hazaar, was the highlight of Congress's manifesto.
"There is a state of economic emergency in the country. Shock therapy is required to jump-start the system. The narrative is set. And that narrative is NYAY," Congress chief president Rahul Gandhi said while introducing his minimum guarantee scheme for 20% of the country's population. Gandhi promised 25 crore people a yearly income of Rs 72,000 or Rs 3.6 lakh over the next five years.
Among the highlights of the Congress manifesto were the Nyay scheme through which he hoped to "fire-up the economy", promise of giving jobs starting with filling up 22 lakh government job vacancies, doing away with multiple permissions required to set up new businesses, dedicating 6% of the budget for education and improving healthcare by replacing private insurance companies with government agencies.
He also promised what he described as a “historical” step, introducing changes in the legal system to ensure that failure to pay bank loans by farmers be considered a civil offence instead of how it is legally treated right now, a criminal offence. The mandated number of working days under the MGNREGA scheme, which the Congress had in its 2009 manifesto promised at 100 days, will be increased to 150 working days.
The Congress president also answered a few questions after the launch of Congress manifesto.
Asked about his decision to fight from Kerala's Wayanad constituency, in addition to Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, Gandhi said he had decided to fight from Wayanad to send a message of solidarity in the south.
"There is a very strong feeling in south India of not being included in the decisions... The south feels hostility from Narendra Modi. I decided to respond to the demands of my colleagues from Kerala to issue a message that we are with you. I'm standing with you. That's why I chose to fight from Kerala," Gandhi said.
When asked about how he planned to counter the campaigns of Prime Minister Narendra Modi woven around issues of national security and nationalism, Gandhi issued a direct challenge to the Prime Minister to debate matters of national security, foreign policy and corruption.
Speaking just before Gandhi, former PM Manmohan Singh also spoke on the issue of unemployment and poverty, reiterating his party's narrative for the upcoming parliamentary elections.
"In this manifesto, we have looked for ways to move the country towards an inclusive, farm-driven economy where prosperity and productivity go together... In our 10 years of UPA, we lifted 140 million people out of poverty. Our target here will be to eradicate poverty in India by 2030."
P Chidambaram, former finance minister and chairman of the party’s manifesto committee, while introducing the manifesto said that the BJP was trying to take the narrative towards polarisation and hyper-nationalism. Unemployment, farm distress and women security, were the three big issues in the country today, he said adding, they were dealt with in his party's manifesto.
"The thread that binds our manifesto is wealth and welfare. We will create wealth and guarantee welfare," Chidambaram said.
If the thrust of Congress' 2014 manifesto — in which it promised $1 trillion for infrastructure, GDP growth of over 8%, abolishment of export taxes etc — was on economic growth, the 2019 manifesto is directly aimed at exploiting the economic unrest in the country, focussed on the 25 crore poorest Indians.
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