Congress releases 2019 LS election manifesto; Here’s what it promises

New Delhi: The Congress on Tuesday released a 53-page manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections promising good governance, freedom from indebtedness to farmers, protecting existing jobs while creating new ones and implementing anti-corruption laws without bias.

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 manifesto was released by Congress President Rahul Gandhi, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the presence of senior party leaders.

The Congress 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 said.

It 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.

“Through a combination of remunerative prices, lower input costs and assured access to institutional credit, we will set our (farmers) on the path to ‘Karz Mukti’ or freedom from indebtedness.”

The Congress will provide a Minimum Income Support Programme (MISP) or Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY) under which Rs 72,000 a year will be transferred to the poorest 20 per cent families in India.

The party promised anti-corruption laws “without discrimination”.

It said a Congress government will investigate several deals entered into by the Modi government, in particular the Rafale deal. It will also probe the circumstances under which scamsters were allowed to leave the country.

The party promised a new Ministry of Industry, Services and Employment.

It said that it will work to improve the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, including reviewing the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and the Disturbed Areas Act in J&K.

The manifesto promised safety and a right to study or do business anywhere in the country to the students, traders and others from Jammu and Kashmir, saying the party is “deeply concerned about the cases of discrimination and harassment” faced by these people.

“We will adopt a two-pronged approach: firstly, uncompromising firmness on the border and ending infiltration; and secondly, absolute fairness in dealing with the demands of the people and winning their hearts and minds,” the manifesto read.

For North East states, the party promised to restore the special category status and industrial policy.

The Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases between April 11 and May 19.

Speaking at the event, P. Chidambaram, who chaired the Congress Manifesto Committee, said the manifesto “addresses the interests of farmers, industry, Dalits, minorities, workers, women”.

The Congress manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections released on Tuesday aims to focus on “a forward looking economy” and spells out how to get rid of chronic poverty, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said.

“The manifesto’s purpose is to focus to move towards a forward looking economy. All would like India to be a prosperous country, a country where prosperity and productivity go together,” he told the media here.

Manmohan Singh said the Congress aim was to build “a strong, purposeful and modern market economy.

Here are the top promises made by the Congress in its manifesto named ‘Congress Will Deliver’:

Promising to fill 22 lakh government vacancies by March 2020, Congress has decided to increase job guarantee under the MGNREGA scheme from 100 days to 150 days. 10 lakh youth will get jobs in gram panchayats.

It has also promised to have a separate Budget for farmers, in line with the Railways.

Youngsters can set up any business and will not have to take any permission for the first three years.

Rolling out the Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY) scheme, the party promised that Rs 72,000 would be deposited in bank accounts of the women belonging to poor families, annually.

The party pledged to earmark 6 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for education.

Giving much relief to farmers, Congress announced that Farmers’ loan default will not be considered ‘criminal offence’.

Regarding Kashmir, the party announced to review the deployment of armed forces and Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts (AFSPA). It has also promised to appoint three Interlocutors.

Assuring focus on the fact that even the poorest will have access to high-quality health treatment, the manifesto promised to establish a strong public healthcare system.

The manifesto promises to review and replace the current Goods and Services Tax (GST) with ‘GST 2.0’. GST 2.0 will be based on a single and standard tax rate on all goods and services. It stated that the single tax rate will be revenue neutral to the current indirect tax revenue of the Centre and the state governments. It added that the ‘GST 2.0’ regime will levy a special rate of duty on demerit goods.

The party also promises immediate withdrawal of the Citizenship Amendment Bill introduced by the BJP-led government against the wishes of the people of the Northeast. It gave assurance that no citizen of India is denied inclusion in the final National Register of Citizens.

Reiterating its promise, the party pledged to introduce 33 per cent reservation for women in government jobs.

Other promises made in the manifesto include scrapping of NITI Aayog, safeguarding minority status of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and constitutional status of National Commission for Women (NCW).

With inputs from IANS