Congress lays 'nyay thrust' in Lok Sabha poll manifesto, gives push to jobs; makes promises for women, youth, farmers, poor

Congress released its 2024 Lok Sabha poll manifesto here on Friday making of a slew of promises to various sections of society including a legal guarantee for MSP, 50 per cent reservation for women in government jobs, repealing Agnipath scheme, doubling GDP in next ten years, strengthening anti-defection law, restoring status quo ante with China, mobile phones for students from class IX to XII and amending the GST regime

ANI | Updated: 06-04-2024 07:40 IST | Created: 06-04-2024 07:40 IST
Congress lays 'nyay thrust' in Lok Sabha poll manifesto, gives push to jobs; makes promises for women, youth, farmers, poor
Congress released its manifesto for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections (Photo/ANI). Image Credit: ANI
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Congress released its 2024 Lok Sabha poll manifesto here on Friday making of a slew of promises to various sections of society including a legal guarantee for MSP, 50 per cent reservation for women in government jobs, repealing Agnipath scheme, doubling GDP in next ten years, strengthening anti-defection law, restoring status quo ante with China, mobile phones for students from class IX to XII and amending the GST regime. The 'Nyay Patra' was released at the AICC headquarters by the Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress Parliamentary Party Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, former president Rahul Gandhi, manifesto committee Chairman P Chidambaram and general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal.

The manifesto promises 'Paanch Nyay', based on "five pillars of justices" with 25 guarantees which include, 'Yuva Nyay', 'Naari Nyay', 'Kisaan Nyay', 'Shramik Nyay' and 'Hissedari Nyay'. Rahul Gandhi said he is confident that it is a "much closer election than is being propagated by the media".

"It is a close election and we are going to fight an excellent election and we are going to win the election," he said. The main guarantees include caste census, filling the 30 lakh vacancies pending in various central government departments at the earliest, raising the minimum daily wage to Rs 400 and introducing the Rajasthan Model of universal healthcare with insurance cover up to Rs 25 lakh for everyone and restoring statehood to Jammu and Kashmir.

The party said that to achieve transparency and ensure credibility of the electoral process, the 'Nyay Patra' said, the Congress government will amend the election laws to combine the efficiency of the electronic voting machine (EVM) and transparency of the ballot paper. "Voting will be through the EVM but the voter will be able to hold and deposit the machine-generated voting slip into the voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) unit", it said, adding, "the electronic vote tally will be matched against the VVPAT slip tally".

The party also promised to scrap the Agnipath scheme of recruitment in the armed forces and restore the earlier system. The party announced that it will provide legal guarantee for the MSP of various crops which will be fixed on the basis of the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission.

The party promised that it will conduct a nationwide socio-economic and caste census to enumerate the castes and sub-castes and their socio-economic conditions. The party said it will scrap the 50 per cent cap on reservations of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and Other Backward Castes, through a constitutional amendment.

In an initiative aimed at youth, the Congress 'Nyay Patra' promised to abolish application fees of examinations for recruitment in various government departments. The party said it will also provide one-time relief for students and will write off all the student and educational loans, due up to March 15, 2024 and the banks will be compensated for it by the government.

In a major step towards providing equality to women, the party promised it will reserve one-half (50 per cent) of central government jobs for women starting in 2025. Congress guaranteed a new Right to Apprenticeship Act to provide a one-year apprenticeship with a private or a public sector company to every diploma holder or college graduate below the age of 25. Apprentices will get Rs one lakh a year.

The apprenticeship will impart skills, enhance employability and provide full-time job opportunities for millions of youth. "We will provide fast-track courts to adjudicate cases of leaking question papers for job examinations and provide monetary compensation to the victims," the manifesto said.

Promising to launch the Mahalakshmi scheme, the party said it will provide Rs one lakh per year to every poor Indian family as an unconditional cash transfer. The poor will be identified among the families in the bottom of the income pyramid, the party noted. The Congress promised to replace the existing GST regime saying it will replace the GST laws enacted by the BJP-led NDA government with GST 2.0.

"The new GST regime will be based on the universally accepted principle that GST shall be a single, moderate rate (with a few exceptions) that will not burden the poor," the manifesto added. The party said that in the last 10 years "tremendous damage was done by the BJP/NDA by misusing the brute majority enjoyed by it in Parliament to make laws that violated the letter and spirit of the Constitution of India as well as the fundamental principles of law-making, namely, necessity, consultation, reasonableness and proportionality".

"We promise that all anti-people laws passed by the BJP/NDA without proper parliamentary scrutiny and debate, especially those relating to workers,farmers, criminal justice, environment and forests and digital data protection, will be thoroughly reviewed and changed," the manifesto said. "We will carry out complete investigations of the Electoral Bonds Scam, the reckless sale of public assets, the PM CARES scam, repeated intelligence failures at the highest levels and corruption inmajor defence deals," it added.

The manifesto also said that Congress will amend the Constitution to create two divisions in the Supreme Court: a Constitutional Court and a Court of Appeal. "The Constitutional Court consisting of the seven seniormost judges will hear and decide cases involving the interpretation of the Constitution and other cases of legal significance or national importance. The Court of Appeal will be the final court of appeal that will, sitting in Benches of three judges each, hear appeals from the High Court and National Tribunals."

The party promised to double the GDP in the next ten years. "The Congress is committed to rapid growth and generation of wealth...we have set a target of doubling the GDP in the next 10 years," it said. The party said it will ensure that all students of classes IX to XII have mobile phones to ensure equitable access to learning.

On the border issue with China, the party said it will work to restore the status quo ante on borders with China and to ensure that areas, where both armies patrolled in the past, are again accessible to our soldiers. "We will take the necessary steps to adjust our policy towards China until this is achieved," the party said. The Congress said it will repair relations with the Maldives also.

The party said it will amend the Press Council of India Act, 1978 to empower the Council to deal with the menace of fake news and paid news. To discourage defections, the party promised to amend the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution and make defection (leaving the original party on which the MLA or MP was elected) an automatic disqualification of the membership in the Assembly or Parliament.

The party promised to raise the pensions for senior citizens, widows and persons with disabilities under the National Social Assistance Programme to Rs 1,000 per month against the current amount between Rs 200-500. To streamline the functioning of sporting bodies and federations, Congress promised to enact a separate legislation for the registration of sports federations/bodies/associations which will ensure full compliance with the Olympic Charter, allow for autonomy and full accountability, and provide recourse for members and sportspersons against discrimination, bias, sexual harassment, abuse and wrongful termination.

The Congress said its government will provide sports scholarships of Rs 10,000 per month to talented and budding sports persons below the age of 21. The party also promised not to interfere with personal choices of food and dress, to love and marry, and to travel and reside in any part of India. "All laws and rules that interfere unreasonably with personal freedoms will be repealed," the party said.

It will also encourage state governments to establish "school fee regulation committees". It will ensure to provide mobile phones for all students from classes IX to XII for equitable access to learning. It promised to double the number of Anganwadi workers and create 14 lakh more jobs.

The party said if voted to power, it will immediately restore full statehood to Jammu and Kashmir. It will also amend the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to include tribal areas of Ladakh. The party promised to give Special Category status to Andhra Pradesh. The party will amend the Government of NCT of Delhi Act, 1991 so that the LG shall act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers of NCT, Delhi except on three reserved subjects. The party has also promised to grant full statehood to Puducherry.

The Congress promised to remove the present state government of Manipur and "heal the wounds between communities". The party said it will appoint a Reconciliation Commission for political and administrative settlement in Manipur and ensure appropriate compensation and redressal for victims and survivors of conflict in Manipur.

The party promised to have a final solution and agreement with the Naga groups. In his remarks, Kharge said that the party manifesto was a commitment towards justice for the people of the country. He said the manifesto will open the doors of development for farmers, traders, women, youth, poor and deprived sections across the country.

He said the manifesto will be remembered as a "document of justice" in the political history of the country and noted that the document has been prepared after extensive mass contact with people during the Bharat Jodo Yatra and Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi. He said the Congress has given top priority to the basic issues of the people, while paying special attention to the economy. He promised that the pace of the socio-economic development of this country will be accelerated.

Referring to Prime Minister Modi's claims of "Modi ki guarantee" (Modi's guarantee), he remarked, this is not a claim of any individual but the commitment of a party, which has a glorious history of 139 years. Taking a dig at the Prime Minister's claims about eradicating corruption, he pointed out, how 25 "tainted" leaders from different political parties joined the BJP and "got clean chit form the government".

Alleging that there was no level-playing field in the elections, he pointed out that the opposition leaders were being jailed while Congress was being harassed through income tax notices. He said that "democracy and constitution were in danger" and these have to be saved. Rahul Gandhi said that the party's election manifesto was aspirational, representing the voice and aspirations of the people from across the country and was the roadmap for progress and development.

The Congress leader reiterated that this election was to save democracy and the Constitution. He said while PM Modi and his party were attacking democracy and the constitution, 'INDIA' was defending and protecting it. He also alleged that Prime Minister Modi had created a "political-finance monopoly" by misusing the ED and the CBI. He pointed out that all information is in the public domain now as to how "intimidating tactics" were used to collect money.

Gandhi expressed confidence that the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) will emerge victorious, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi's claims of winning "400 plus" seats were a sign of "his nervousness" as he realized that his alliance will not even cross 180 mark. Replying to a question, Gandhi said a similar hype like 'India Shining' in 2004 was again being created now with some more dimensions added to it. He expressed confidence that "'INDIA' will win, irrespective of the deliberate hype being created to the contrary".

"It is a document of India's aspirations, which has been conceived and created by the people and drafted and put into words by the Congress," he said. Gandhi said whatever promises Congress has made before the elections in various states, these have been fulfilled by the respective state governments.

He said these are not mere promises but pledges for justice and the roadmap for the future and prosperous India. In his remarks, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who headed the manifesto committee, said the "broad theme of the manifesto is justice" and summed it up as "work, wealth and welfare".

"Every aspect of justice has been threatened, weakened, diminished and in some cases, denied in the last 10 years, especially in the last five years. We have, in this manifesto, suggested bold measures to reverse the damage that has happened in the last 5-10 years," he said. Noting that wealth must be created before it is distributed, he said wages have been stagnant in the country and that the average income of the bottom 50 per cent has not grown.

He also said that the income gap between the rich and other sections of society had been widening. Stressing the need for capital investment, private investment, government investment, and foreign investment, he said "once, we create jobs and once, we settle policies that will create wealth, this country will go back to the high growth path of the UPA governments".

"The Modi government is a government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich and it is driven only by the interest of the top one percent of this country". Chidambaram pointed out, the UPA government lifted 24 crore people out of poverty. "We promise that if the Congress or a Congress-led government comes to power in 2024, we will lift 23 crore people out of poverty in the next ten years," he said.

Answering a query on the manifesto not having the promise made by Congress in some states of restoring the Old Pension Scheme, Chidambaram said it would be premature to take a stand as the central government has formed a committee. "It's not missing as such, it's very much in our minds, but please remember the developments that have taken place in the last 4 months. The government has appointed a committee headed by the Finance Secretary, to review the NPS and the demand for OPS and to find a way in which the objectives of OPS can be financed by a Funded Pension Scheme, which means the government has come around to the point of view that while the OPS delivered benefits to the pensioners, the NPS made it sustainable," he said.

"Now a committee has been appointed under the Finance Secretary and lest we receive the report of that committee and review it, it would be premature to take a stand on the OPS and NPS controversy. It's very much in our minds and we will come out with our position, once the committee's report is received," he added. Congress leaders Priyanka Gandhi, Ajay Maken, Jairam Ramesh and Sachin Pilot were among those present on the occasion.

The Congress is fighting the Lok Sabha polls as part of INDIA bloc. (ANI)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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