Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, along with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, general secretary Priyanka Gandhi and several other senior leaders released the party’s election manifesto on Tuesday, with the tagline “Congress will deliver”.
In the 55-page document, the party highlighted that job creation, addressing farmers’ distress, bringing a single moderate GST rate and giving Rs 72,000 per annum to 20 percent of India’s poorest families would be its key focus if voted to power.
The Congress also promised to come out with separate budget for farmers, fill up 22 lakh vacancies in government jobs, allocate 6 percent of the GDP to education, bring 50 more days of guaranteed jobs from the current 100 under MNREGA, boost healthcare infrastructure and enhance women’s safety.
“When we started a year ago, I made it clear that nothing in this can be a lie because we live in a time when we hear a large number of lies every day,” Rahul said, after releasing the Congress manifest0.
Election manifestos are important for political discussions ahead of elections, and for understanding the direction different political parties propose for the country. However, it must be kept in mind that parties overpromise ahead of elections, and the Congress must explain why it must not face that scepticism. Its manifesto has scant details about how its ambitious schemes will be funded. It is true that the Congress did deliver on many of the promises it made in 2004, though not entirely and to the full extent. Nonetheless, the Congress will do well to address follow-up questions on its schemes and their implementation. The manifesto has triggered a national debate on several issues that are close to people’s lives, and that is a welcome development. It has also prompted a fresh round of debate on broader topics such as India’s development path, the potential and limits of welfare and questions of fiscal discipline and revenue extraction. The Bharatiya Janata Party should join this debate on the merit in the Congress’s promises rather than use this as yet another opportunity to question the patriotism of its opponents. Details are inadequate, but the direction envisioned in the manifesto is encouraging.
(The featured image at the top shows Sonia and Rahul Gandhi at the release of the Congress party manifesto)