Congress says will deliver on Nyay, jobs, farmers welfare, education and healthcare

Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, A K Antony and P Chidambaram unveiling the party's manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, in New Delhi on April 2, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, A K Antony and P Chidambaram unveiling the party's manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, in New Delhi on April 2, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Congress President Rahul Gandhi today released his party's manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections with five main themes -- Nyay, a minimum income guarantee scheme, jobs and an expanded MGNREGA, steps to address the farm crisis, education and healthcare.
The manifesto, titled "Congress will Deliver" in English and "Hum Nibhayenege" in Hindi,was unveiled by Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and senior Congress leaders A. K. Antony and P. Chidambaram at a function at the party's headquarters here this morning.
Gandhi told the gathering, including journalists, that he had urged Antony, Chidambaram and other leaders such as Rajeev Gowda, who had worked on the manifesto, that it must reflect the voice of the people across the country and not contain even one lie or false promise.
He said Manmohan Singh had assessed and vetted the manifesto and given his expertise to the drafting committee, while Sonia Gandhi had also provided her inputs.
Gandhi said that, under Nyay (Nyunatam Aay Yojana), the Congress, if voted to power at the Centre in the April-May elections, would guarantee a minimum income of Rs. 6,000 every month (Rs. 72,000 each year and Rs. 3,60,000 during the next five years) to the 20 percent poorest families in the country.
He said that the amounts, which will be directly transferred to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries, would create increased demand for goods and services, especially in the rural areas, and help kickstart the stalled economy.
Gandhi said the Congress, if voted to power, would fill up the 22 lakh vacancies in government jobs and also provide jobs to 10 lakh people through the gram panchayats across the country.
He also said that no permissions from government would be required for new businesses for three years, a move aimed at giving a boost to entrepreneurs.
He announced that the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme (MGNREGA), which now guarantees 100 days of employment in a year for those who seek work in rural areas, would be expanded to guarantee 150 days of employment.
Gandhi said the Congress, if it forms the next government, would introduce a separate "Kisan Budget" so that farmers would have a clear idea about the allocations made for various schemes aimed at their welfare.
He also said that non-repayment of loans by farmers would not be treated as criminal offences, as at presence, but only as civil offences. He said that while rich industrialists fled the country after defaulting on bank loans worth thousands of crores of rupees, poor farmers were jailed for defaulting on small loans.
Gandhi said the Congress would allocate 6 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for education in an effort to make quality education in institutions such as IITs, IIMs and other such institutions accessible to all.
In the area of healthcare, he said the Congress would upgrade and modernise government  hospitals and other institutions across the country to make the best medical facilities available to the poorest people.
He said the Congress did not have much faith in healthcare schemes based on private sector health insurance providers which, he said, was the case in the  Ayushman programme launched by the Narendra Modi government.
Gandhi also said that the Congress would accord the highest priority to national and internal security, stating that the party's record in this regard was known to all. He said the BJP-led NDA government was dividing the people and spreading hatred and pointed out that the consequences could be seen in Jammu and Kashmir.
"We will unite the people and bring the nation together," he said.
Responding to questions from the media, Gandhi said the lack of jobs and the farm crisis were the main issues in the coming elections and argued that all surveys and polls had pointed to this.
He said that people across the country felt the economy had stalled as a result of demonetisation and the hasty implementation of the Goods and Service Tax (GST) and declared that his party would take steps to revive the economy.
Gandhi said the Nyay scheme, GST, corruption, the Rafale fighter jet deal, the "lies" of Prime Minister Modi and the BJP's "false promises were among the issues uppermost in people's minds across the country.
In reply to a question, he said MGNREGA had contributed in a major way to India's dramatic growth in the ten years of the Congress-led UPA government and had helped to kickstart the economy.
On Modi's attempts to keep the focus on issues such as nationalism, national security and so on, Gandhi said the Prime Minister was in a state of shock after the Congress unveiled Nyay and other such schemes and was now trying to hide behind "some issue or the other".
He said the truth was that there was a lack of enough jobs, farmers were committing suicide, the promised "Achhe Din" (good days) had not come and that the "Chowkidar" (watchman), as Modi describes himself, had "facilitated thefts".
"The  chowkidar can hide, but he cannot escape," he said.
To a question, Gandhi said the Congress, if voted to power, would reform the "Gabbar Singh Tax" and introduce a single tax at the lowest possible rate, instead of the multiple tax slabs at present, and simplify forms and all other compliance requirements.
Asked about the BJP's criticism that the Nyay and such other schemes were not doable, he said, "It is not doable for the BJP, but for the  Congress it is doable. Trust us, I don't make false promises."
Gandhi said the Congress would reach out to millions of people, especially those in the lower strata, with schemes like Nyay, MGNREGA and those in education, healthcare, employment and other such segments.
About his decision to contest from a second constituency, Wayanad in Kerala, apart from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, from where he has been elected for three consecutive terms, Gandhi said there was a "feeling in South India that they are not being carried by the current government and that there is hostility from Narendra Modi."
"There is a feeling that they are not included in decision-making in the country. We want to send a message to them that we are with you," he said.
To another question about a possible electoral alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi, Gandhi said the Congress had tied up electoral alliances in many states and was open to such arrangements in general. "We are open to alliances," he said, without going into the specifics of Delhi.
Asked about Modi's attacks on the Congress on issues such as nationalism, Gandhi challenged the Prime Minister to have a one-to-one debate with him on national security, foreign policy, corruption or such issues.
He said Modi was running away from facing questions on such issues and that is why he had not addressed a single press conference. He wondered why Modi was scared of facing journalists. He said the media grilled him on all kinds of issues at every opportunity but was afraid of posing any question to the Prime Minister.
The Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases between April 11 and May 19.

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