Congress Manifesto – A remedy for the woes of India

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India has been touched by a new ray of hope as Congress announced its manifesto for Lok Sabha Polls and the poor have heaved a sigh of relief seeing that Congress has given special considerations to the India that lives in the villages.

More than 60% of India’s population does farming and a huge percentage still that lives below poverty line has been living a life of misery in last 5 years. The disastrous economic policies of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have had a direct adverse effect on the daily wage labourers, farmers and small scale businessmen.

Releasing the manifesto, Congress president Rahul Gandhi underlined that his party’s governments had delivered on the promise of farm loan waivers in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh soon after winning the Assembly elections last December.

For the BJP, this is a lost opportunity. It should not have handed over leadership on economics and policy back to the Congress. PM Modi tried to rebrand himself as a welfare-state populist but the Congress’ manifesto is a reminder that it is always going to do better at promising welfare expansions than anyone else. It has pledged that 3.6 percent of GDP will be redistributed, as an income supplement, to the poorest fifth of India’s population. How the hundreds of millions of Indians meant to benefit from this would be identified is not clear — nor can anyone say for certain what the impact on prices and the labour market of such a large basic-income programme would be. Even so this promise, of a minimum guaranteed income, has stolen the BJP’s thunder: It had hoped its own much smaller income-support program for farmers would be sufficient to shore up PM Modi’s “pro-poor” credentials.

PM Modi’s government has not lived up to expectations. His lack of familiarity with policy combined with a lack of competence in his party resulted in disastrous steps that hurt the economic infrastructure of the country.

On the other hand, Congress said it held 121 public consultations and 53 closed-door talks to prepare the manifesto. Rahul has promised that if voted to power, his party will ensure 20 percent of India’s poor – about 25 crore citizens or 5 crore families – a minimum income guarantee of Rs 72,000 a year. Apart from that, the party also vowed to fill 400,000 vacancies in government, public sector enterprises, parliament, and the judiciary before the end of this financial year, abolish the controversial angel tax, reverse “unwarranted and illegal interference of the BJP government in the functioning of RBI”, address “tax terrorism”, enact the Direct Taxes Code in the first year of the government itself, and have a single moderate standard goods and services tax (GST).

The party said it would bring back the Planning Commission to replace the NITI Aayog, and give it “redefined responsibilities like formulating medium- and long-term perspective plans”. The manifesto, released by Congress President Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, and senior leader P Chidambaram, among others, assured everyone the party would present a separate “kisan” budget to ensure priority to issues affecting the agriculture sector.

After the deteriorating impact of BJP economic failures, Indian economy desperately needs a push in the positive direction. The underprivileged section of the society is looking up to its leaders in hopes of getting a remedy for their woes. The Congress Manifesto is the remedy Indian wounds require for healing. The Agriculture Sector as well as Education is given special preference in the 55-page long document. This goes without saying that an India built on strong agricultural and educational foundations will be a much stronger India.

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