Cong promises included giving Rs 72,000 each to five crore poor families under the ‘Nyay’ scheme, and filling up 22 lakh Govt vacancies
THE Congress, which released its election manifesto on Tuesday, promised to amend the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act or the AFSPA, that grants special powers to the Armed Forces in ‘insurgency-hit areas,’ if the party came to power after the ensuing Lok Sabha elections. Congress’ promises included giving Rs 72,000 each to five crore poor families under the ‘Nyay’ scheme, filling up 22 lakh Government vacancies, bringing a separate Budget for farmers and fixing a single moderate GST rate.
The 55-page document titled ‘Hum Nibhayenge’ (We will deliver) focused on addressing the issues of joblessness, farm distress, safety of women and boosting the rural economy, with stress on building a narrative on “real issues” faced by people. The manifesto was released by party President Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and senior leader P Chidambaram among others.
For farmers, Congress promised to put them on the path from “Karz Maafi” (loan waiver), to “Karz Mukti” (freedom from loans). This will be done through remunerative prices, lower input costs and assured access to institutional credit, the party said, adding it will present a separate ‘Kisan Budget’ every year, if voted to power. Speaking on the occasion at the Congress headquarters here, Gandhi said the Congress will allocate 6 per cent of GDP to education, strengthen Government hospitals and give high-quality healthcare access to poor if voted to power. The party also promised to enact the Right to Healthcare Act and guarantee every citizen free diagnostics, out-patient care, free medicines and hospitalisation, through a network of public hospitals and enlisted private hospitals.
“Our manifesto process reflects our commitment to a higher vision, that of listening to the ‘jan awaaz.’ It is not the ‘mann ki baat’ of one individual but the collective voice of lakhs of people,” he said in a preface of the manifesto. With this manifesto, Gandhi said the Congress has offered to people “the only national alternative — a distinct alternative that is unwavering in its commitment to truth, freedom, dignity, self-respect and prosperity for our people.” He promised to make India “strong and united, and a just and prosperous society.”
On the party’s showpiece Minimum Income Guarantee Scheme or Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY), the party’s manifesto promised to give Rs 72,000 per year to the poorest 20 per cent households in India. To the youth of India, Congress pledged to make jobs its top priority, saying it will ensure 34 lakh jobs in the public sector by filling all 4 lakh Central Government vacancies before March 2020, persuading the State Governments to fill 20 lakh vacancies and creating an estimated 10 lakh new Seva Mitra positions in every Gram Panchayat and urban local bodies. On education, Congress promised that school education from Class I to Class XII in public schools shall be compulsory and free.