NEW DELHI: The Congress manifesto has promised to create jobs, minimum income guarantee to the poorest, a separate kisan budget, universal free healthcare, a simplified goods and services tax and increased spending on education and defence. It has promised Rs 72,000 per year to the poorest 20% Indians under Nyuntam Aay Yojana.
Unveiling the manifesto at the Congress headquarters in New Delhi on Tuesday, party president Rahul Gandhi gave the party its punchline: ‘Garibi pe vaar — bahattar hazaar’ (A blow to poverty – Rs 72,000). Taking a leaf from its Chhattisgarh campaign, Congress has promised creation of 10 lakh seva mitra positions in gram panchayat and urban local bodies. These seva mitras would get a basic income as they provide services like meter reading and property tax collection.
Farmers have been promised a separate kisan budget. “The way we had a separate rail budget, we will have a kisan budget so that the farmer knows what he is entitled to and how much. He should know how much MSP is his right.” Gandhi said: “Farmers who cannot pay off loans are jailed as criminals. We promise that bank loan defaulter farmers would not be tried as criminals.
It would be a civil offence.” ‘Congress Will Deliver’ is the party’s welfare push, hoping to steer the political discourse from what it termed as “hyper nationalism” and “attempt at polarisation”. The manifesto begins with a foreword from Gandhi who signs off, ‘Congress promises, Congress delivers’, emphasising that people have lost faith in “words of the prime minister” as “he has given only grandiose promises, empty slogans, failed programmes, false statistics.”
Congress has promised universal healthcare and junk Ayushman Bharat. The party has also included its agenda on climate change and pollution terming air pollution as a “public health emergency”.