The Hindu Business Line

Congress promises minimum income, jobs, agri budget

BJP slams election manifesto, calls it an attempt to ‘Balkanise’ India

- POORNIMA JOSHI/TINA EDWIN

The Congress on Tuesday released a back-to-basic roti, kapda, makaan poll manifesto, promising basic minimum income, more jobs and a separate budget for farmers, among other things.

The BJP pushed its ultra nationalis­t line, accusing the Congress of “weakening national security” and siding with “terrorists, Maoists and the tukde tukde gang” (divisive forces).

Highlighti­ng political economy as the party’s main campaign pitch through the manifesto, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said this is the Congress President Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Finance Minister P Chidambara­m releasing the manifesto in New Delhi on Tuesday

only comprehens­ive and distinct alternativ­e vision to the individual-centric policy formulatio­n that Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveils intermitte­ntly through his monthly Mann ki Baat.

Economic issues

As a counter to the BJP’s militarist­ic pitch, with Balakot strikes and Anti-Satellite Missile test framing the narrative, the Congress

has sought to focus on economic issues through a comprehens­ive 55-page manifesto that almost resembles a Budget document.

The manifesto was released by Rahul, strategica­lly flanked by the party’s economic think tank — former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Finance Minister P Chidambara­m and former IIM professor and Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Gowda. Also present were party leaders Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra.

Delivered with the tag-line ‘Congress will Deliver’, the manifesto promises a basic minimum income of ₹72,000 per year each to five crore poor families under the NYAY scheme, filling up 22 lakh government vacancies, bringing a separate budget for farmers and fixing a single moderate GST rate, among others.

The BJP’s response to the Congress’s manifesto — with its painstakin­g details about remunerati­ve farm prices and increased expenditur­e on healthcare and education — was led by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who dubbed it as an “agenda for Balkanisat­ion of India” and wrote a blog titled ‘The Congress Manifesto – A Charter to Weaken India’.

The Congress manifesto has underlined the distinctio­n between the BJP, which advocates for a tough stand on terrorism and national security, and the Congress, which does not “deserve a single vote” for siding with “terrorists, jehadis, Maoists and the tukde tukde gang”, said Jaitley. He cited an entry in that promises to repeal Section 124A of the IPC pertaining to sedition.

Responding to Jaitley’s charge, Chidambara­m said: “Sedition is a colonial era law. The first to say it was Jawaharlal Nehru. We have made other laws, for example we have Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and Defence of India Act. If you look at those provisions carefully, you will find that anything that will come under sedition laws is already covered by those laws and those law have procedural safeguards.”

More reports p14

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RV MOORTHY

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