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  • Congress Election Manifesto: Charge sheet Against BJP; Assurance of Justice to All

    Published on April 6, 2024

    By Suresh Unnithan

    The Congress party’s election manifesto, ‘Nyay Patra’ is more a charge sheet against the “Anyaay Kaal” of the BJP Government at the centre. The principal opposition party has pledged in its manifesto to undo the anti-people policies of the incumbent Modi government with pro-people measures that could uplift the country from the current “fiscal mess and social uncertainty”. The manifesto has elaborated in so many words the party’s “well-designed strategy” based on ‘Paanch Nyay’ or five pillars of justice-‘Yuva Nyay’ (Justice for Youth), ‘Naari Nyay’ (Justice for women), ‘Kisaan Nyay’ (Justice for Farmers), ‘Shramik Nyay’ (Justice for workforces) and ‘Hissedari Nyay’ (Equity Justice). The party has in its manifesto declared 25 guarantees to ensure the above five “Nyay”).

    The party in its introduction its ‘Nyay Patra’ has said that its prime concerned the prevailing “climate of fear, intimidation and hatred. In the last five years, every section of the people has lived in fear; laws and investigating agencies have been weaponised to intimidate people.” The party has also alerted in its manifesto that “the economy of the nation is in a crisis. Despite the claim that India is the fastest growing large economy in the world, our growth.”

    The party has further said “Youth have lost jobs. The unemployment rate is 8 percent; among graduates the unemployment rate is over 40%. Farmers have lost hope. Farmers had to come on to the streets for 16 months to fight the three farm laws that would have made them tenant-farmers of corporate houses; and the farmers are back on the streets again.”

    Traders have lost business”. The party has highlighted in its manifesto that “The Goods and Services Tax (GST) laws have squeezed exorbitant tax revenues out of lakhs of   traders and constrained free trade” and “Traders have lost business. Micro, small and medium enterprises have lost their confidence. Lakhs of MSMEs have shut down and are no longer creators of jobs.”

    The party in its ‘Nyay Patra’ has castigated the incumbent Modi government for the escalating violence against women. “Women have lost a sense of security. Crimes against women have increased by 31 per cent between 2014 and 2022.”

    “Deprived communities have lost their economic rights. Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) communities have been deprived of jobs because of the unfilled vacancies in government and other public institutions. Tribal people have been denied their rights under the Forest Rights Act.

    The party also points out in its manifesto that “Institutions have lost independence”. Every institution, including Constitutional bodies, has been undermined and, in some cases, forced to become subservient to the government.”

    It has also accused that the ruling BJP and its affiliates “have spread hatred among people belonging to different religious, language and caste groups. Today, the dangers that we had warned against have become a hard reality.”

    Referring the fiscal status of the nation the party says “the economy is in a crisis. Despite the claim that India is the fastest growing large economy in the world, our growth rate has fallen from an average of 6.7 per cent (new series) during the UPA period of 2004-14 to an average of 5.9 per cent during 2014-24. Inequality between the rich and the poor and middle classes have increased sharply dealing a body blow to the goals of equality, equity, and social and economic justice.”

    Referring to the “ pathetic economic condition” of the people said that “80 crore people depend on free grain (5 kg per person per month) are definite indicators of widespread poverty. On the Global Hunger Index, India’s rank is 111 out of 125 countries.”

    The manifesto says that “The federal structure is under attack. The gravest danger is that India may no longer be a truly free and democratic republic.” According to the party “democracy in India has been hollowed out and we are rapidly sliding to become a one-party and one-person dictatorship.”

    Siting the “exclusive importance” of the ‘Nyay Patra’, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge said on the manifesto launch, “this manifesto of ours will be remembered as ‘Nyay ka dastavez’ in the political history of the country.” Kharge said out of these five pillars (Yuva Nyay, Naari Nyay, Kisaan Nyay, Shramik Nyay and Hissedari Nyay) 25 guarantees emerge, and in every 25 guarantees, someone or the other gets benefited, under this, we have our manifesto here.”

    Highlights of Nyay Patra:

    • The party will launch a Mahalakshmi scheme to provide Rs 1 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 will reserve one-half (50 per cent) of central government jobs for women starting in 2025.
    • MNREGA minimum wage will be raised to  ₹400 a day
    • The Centre’s contribution to pensions for senior citizens, widows and persons with disabilities under the National Social Assistance Programme remains a pitiful ₹200 to ₹500 per month. The Congress will raise this amount to ₹1,000 per month.
    • The Rajasthan Model of cashless insurance up to ₹25 lakhs will be adopted for universal healthcare.
    • The party will pass a law making it an offence to commit acts of violence against doctors and other health professionals while performing their duties.
    • The party will abolish application fees for government examinations and government posts. As a one-time measure of relief, the amount due including unpaid interest as of March 15, 2024, all student educational loans will be written off and the banks will be compensated by the government.
    • Will give a legal guarantee to the Minimum Support Prices (MSP) announced by the government every year, as recommended by the Swaminathan Commission.
    • The party promises 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 promises 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.
    • Has set a target of doubling the GDP in the next 10 years.
    • Will replace the GST laws enacted by the BJP/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 party will 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, wrongful termination, etc. Congress will provide sports scholarships of ₹10,000 per month to talented and budding sports persons below the age of 21.

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