New Delhi: The Congress on Monday launched a dedicated website to take suggestions from the public to prepare the party’s manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections under the theme ‘Jan Aawaz’ (people’s voice).
At a press conference here, senior party leader and former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram launched the dedicated website — www.manifesto.inc.in — to receive suggestions from the public.
He said the website has the option for 16 languages and also a dedicated WhatsApp number to receive suggestions.
The former Minister announced that the “Congress has started work to write its manifesto for the 2019 elections”, adding that a 22-member committee with Rajeev Gowda, MP, as its Convener has been constituted to make it. “The process of consultation started on October 1.”
Chidambaram said the committee has been divided into 20 subject groups with each one under of the members. “Till date, over 30 consultations have taken place for the preparation of the manifesto and about 150-160 more till December end.”
He said that Congress President Rahul Gandhi has made it clear that the party’s manifesto will be written following an inclusive process.
“It will be based on the basis of conversation with the people of India. We will ask people, encourage people and motivate people to tell us what they expect of the Congress party and when it forms the government and then what they expect from the government,” he said.
“We hope that millions of people participate in the manifesto consultations,” Chidambaram said.
The Congress Working Committee (CWC) will take a decision on a draft manifesto prepared by the committee which is expected to complete the consultation process by December end.
The manifesto will be launched at an appropriate time before the 2019 elections, Chidambaram added.
Rajeev Gowda said, “The larger theme of the process is that your aspirations shape the future of India, your voice inspires change and the Indian National Congress is listening to you.”
Replying to a question over Subramanian Swamy’s claims that Chidambaram would join the BJP, he jokingly replied, “I am also planning to join the Democratic Party in US, Republican Party in US, Communist Party in China.”
Asked about Shashi Tharoor likening Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a scorpion seated on a Shivling, Chidambaram described it as “a complete non-issue”.
“Tharoor did not make that comment. He quoted comment made six years ago from a writer in the Caravan magazine,” he said.
“I think between the time comment is made and the time it gets publicity, everything changes, the author changes, the words change and the subject changes,” he said, adding that please go back and that “Tharoor has clarified that he was quoting an article six years ago”.
When asked about Reserve Bank of India Deputy Governor Viral Acharya’s statement advocating independence for the central bank, Chidambaram said, “It’s not only too early to comment, it’s only a sketchy information available.”
“But there must be some information available, it must be some grave information why the Deputy Governor delivered that speech,” he said, adding that in the footnote he (Acharya) says that “he is grateful to RBI Governor (Urjit Patel) for encouraging him to explore the subject”.
“I think the matter is serious enough and it will be best if the RBI and the government don’t talk across each other through lectures. We had two already. Instead of talking to each other through lectures, it might be better if the time-honoured practice of the Finance Minister (Arun Jaitley) and RBI Governor meeting often in private and talking issue.
“We have done in the past and it has worked well. Why are the people delivering lectures across each other I don’t know,” he added.