View: Congress manifesto anchored in realities of present, unlike BJP's

Early this month, Congress released its election manifesto. It’s a marked deviation from the usual wishlist that parties release. It seeks to lift the country out of the multi-faceted decline it has seen over the past decade. Its aim is to set India once again on the path of inclusive economic progress and social harmony. ‘Nyaya Patra’ (Covenant of Justice) reflects the people’s needs and aspirations, besides being revolutionary in its approach.

The past decade has seen divisive forces exploiting religious sentiments to damage India’s culture of tolerance and inclusion. Institutions the founding fathers of the republic created to protect the nascent democracy have been subverted, while government agencies have been let loose on the opposition.

The rich have grown unconscionably richer, while the poor have got poorer. Crony capitalism has crushed the people’s entrepreneurial spirit. GoI’s favourite corporate houses have logged record profits, while malnourishment, in pure numbers, has increased. Minorities have been living in fear. Unemployment has reached record levels.

The Congress manifesto is a comprehensive response to all this. The party commits itself to empowerment of the poor, providing a level playing ground for entrepreneurs so that the private sector could be revitalised into generating employment and fuelling growth. Its manifesto promises filling all vacancies for government jobs, regularisation of contract jobs and ending the Agniveer scheme of military recruitment.

Congress’ one-year paid apprenticeship programme for all young Indians will be a game-changer. It can provide a seamless transfer of India’s youth from educational institutions into well-paid employment.

We, in Karnataka, are proud that Congress has adopted the state’s Gruha Lakshmi programme as a pan-India programme in its manifesto as ‘Mahalakshmi’. This programme will financially empower women by granting ₹1 lakh a year to every female head of a poor household. Its promise to remove the 50% ceiling on reservations and to conduct a socio-economic survey of castes are bold measures aimed at redefining social justice.While BJP has consistently ignored the desperate pleas of farmers, the Congress manifesto responds to the pressing concerns of India’s battered farm sector. A Congress government at the Centre will waive farmers’ loans.Unlike the BJP manifesto presenting a vision for the future that is informed by a mythical past, the Congress’ is anchored in realities of the present, not just in its bold reimagination of growth and social justice but also in realising the urgency of having to put the country back on rails of constitutional ideals from which it has drifted over the past decade.

From arresting the erosion of existing institutions of democracy to creating new institutions, such as the long-awaited National Judicial Commission and restoring the Planning Commission, the legal and institutional roadmap the Congress manifesto has put forward promises to bring back constitutional decorum and balance that were once the hallmarks of India’s governance.

The prime minister has described Congress’ vision and its programmes as ‘divisive’. How any of the promises listed in our party’s manifesto be described as ‘divisive’ defies reason. Salvation for India lies not in taking the country to its iniquitous past, but in reestablishing the regime of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity laid down in the Constitution, and reiterated in the Congress manifesto.


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