New Delhi: The Congress on Tuesday released a 53-page manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections 2019 with a slew of promises including good governance, freedom from indebtedness to farmers, protecting existing jobs while creating new ones and implementing anti-corruption laws without bias.
Released by Congress President Rahul Gandhi, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at party headquarters in national capital, the Congress manifesto was divided into ‘Kaam’ – employment and growth, ‘Daam’ – economy that works for all, ‘Shaan’ – pride in India’s hard and soft power, ‘Sushashan’ – good governance, ‘Swabhimaan’ – self-esteem for the deprived and ‘Samman’ – life of dignity for all.
The grand old party also promised to omit, amend certain laws, rules and regulation including Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and section 124A of Indian Penal Code, that defines sedition. “Congress party will initiate a comprehensive review of all laws, rules and regulations and bring them in accordance with constitutional values and democracy,” the manifesto stated.
Furthermore, the manifesto also promised the passage of a new law in the first session of 17th Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha to prevent and punish hate crimes like lynching, making defamation a civil offence, establishing the National Judicial Commission (NJC) to select judges, pass a new law to prevent torture, amend AFSPA to remove certain immunities and change law that allows detention without trial.
The Congress party in its manifesto also stressed that dialogue was the only way to understand the aspirations of the people of the three regions of Jammu and Kashmir to find an honourable solution to their issues. For North East states, the party promised to restore the special category status and industrial policy.
Besides, the Congress party also promised to launch MGNREGA 3.0 to address issues of water security, soil quality and similar issues that aggravate farmers’ distress. “To this end, we will increase the guaranteed days of employment up to 150 days in cases where 100 days have been achieved in a block/district; and use MGNREGA labour in the Waterbodies Restoration Mission and the Wasteland Regeneration Mission,” the manifesto read.
The party also pledged to give the highest priority to protecting existing jobs and creating new ones. The party promised a loan waiver across the country for farmers.
Manifesto ‘dangerous and unimplementable’
Coming down heavily on the Congress’ manifesto, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley while addressing a press conference said it (manifesto) was an agenda for Balkanisation of India. Terming it ‘positively dangerous and unimplementable’, Jaitley said,”If you see the 35th page of the manifesto, in point 30, there will be review of rules, regulations. How can sedition not be a crime for Congress? They say sedition would be done away with and treason won’t be a crime anymore. Such party does not deserve a single vote.”
“Even though there was a drafting committee, it seems some of the points in the documents have been drafted by the Congress Presidents friends in ‘tukde tukde’ gang when it deals with Jammu & Kashmir.” He added,”They (Congress) want martyr status for jawans, now they want cases against them. Those who laid their lives for the nation, you want them to be prosecuted at behest of relatives of terrorists?”
Mounting attack on the party, Jaitley asserted,”It has been Congress’s history – Rajiv Gandhi brought in TADA, Narasimha Rao rolled it back; Vajpayee ji brought in #POTA but Manmohan Singh rolled it back.”
Jaitley also slammed the Congress over the displacement of Kashmiri Pandits finding no place in the manifesto and said the biggest failure in independent India was the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pundits.
‘Traitors, separatists’ happy with the manifesto’
Union Minister Sushma Swaraj claimed that Congress manifesto made “traitors and separatists happy”. Addressing a BJP women workers’ meet in Nagpur, Swaraj said, “The Congress manifesto has made deshdrohi (traitor) and algavwadi (separatist) people happy. It is unfortunate for the country that on one side Prime Minister Narendra Modi is giving a befitting reply to Pakistan’s terror attacks with surgical and air strikes. On the other hand, the Congress president (Rahul Gandhi) is refusing to accept treason as a crime.”
“This is the difference between chowkidar and rajkumar,” she said, adding that she was confident people would not vote for a party that made the nation unsafe. “I am confident people will re-elect Modi as PM because they know the nation is safe in his hands,” she claimed.
‘Congress should be de-recognised’
Reacting to the Congress election manifesto, Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackery asked Election Commission to ban the grand old party from fighting the 2019 elections as it was propagating “an anti-national agenda”. “What kind of government they (Congress) want – those of traitors and anti-nationals, or of patriots and nationalists?” the NDA ally asked.
Thackeray also countered the Congress arguments on the need to hold talks with the Kashmiri separatists to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir problems. “There cannot be any talks with such separatists. We have always been against negotiations with them,” he said, while attending an election rally for the BJP-Sena candidate in Palghar constituency.
Kanhaiya Kumar welcomes promise of scrapping sedition law
Kanhaiya Kumar, former JNU students union president and CPI candidate from Bihar’s Begusarai welcomed the promise of scrapping the draconian sedition law made in the Congress manifesto. Kumar shot to fame after being booked for treason following his participation in a gathering where anti-national slogans were allegedly raised.
“The latest instance of its misuse we saw in BJP-ruled Assam, where peasant leader Akhil Gogoi was booked under this law just because he raised a voice against the Citizenship Bill”, Kumar said in Begusarai.
He, however, added it is going to be a long process. “First the Congress has to come to power to fulfil such a promise. Even after that, it cannot be done overnight as it would require a constitutional amendment. Nevertheless, I am glad that a beginning has been made. Constitutional remedy is one of the most beautiful features of our democracy,” Kumar said.