CONGRESS MANIFESTO - A PARTY OF THE FAMILY, BY THE FAMILY AND FOR THE FAMILY
The Congress Manifesto is out. What the party says and what the party does provides an interesting contrast, be it "inclusiveness", secularism, commitment to democratic institutions or the personality cult. The party's basket of promises, if returned to power, is similarly unconvincing. Here is a look:
The mantra of "inclusive democracy" is probably the most false and vacuous claim made by the Congress Party in its manifesto for the 2014 Lok Sabha election. It claims that the party's central values "resonate the very idea of India" which revolves around diversity, pluralism and inclusion. At another point it says "We believe in a simple universal truth: equity and opportunity for all. This is what distinguishes the Congress from the "exclusionary politics" of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the manifesto claims.
However, one glance at the manifesto and one realizes what the Congress means by "inclusiveness". Barring a fleeting reference to Mahatma Gandhi, the document only mentions schemes named after Rajiv Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Everyone else – all other national leaders and stalwarts of the Congress stand excluded. Yet, the party accuses its main rival, the BJP of practicing "exclusionary politics"
Here are some examples of the "inclusiveness" of the Congress Party:
- The Indira Awaas Yojana and the Rajiv Awaas Yojana will be expanded to cover all poor rural and urban households (page 10)
- All Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students fulfilling the admission criteria will be provided with universal access to the Rajiv Gandhi Research Fellowships (Page 22)
- The Indian National Congress will ensure that the existing Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe candidates will be extended to students belonging to Other Backward Classes (page 23)
- The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan launched by the Congress-led UPA government will be implemented to ensure high quality sporting facilities in every block of the country (page 30).
- We will work to ensure greater access to electricity; 100% access in urban from current 94% and 90% access in rural areas from current 67.3% under the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (page 38)
- We will ensure accelerated implementation of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission and launch a "National Wind Energy Mission" (page 38)
- With the 74th Amendment to India's Constitution devolving power to urban local bodies, and through the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), we have given a major impetus to urban development in India (page 39)
- The Indira Awaas Yojana will be expanded to cover all poor rural households. Financial assistance for this will include money to not only construct a pucca houses but also individual sanitary toiletsand drinking water connections. For urban areas, the Rajiv Awaas Yojana will be expanded to cover all poor urban households (page 39)
- The Congress-led government launched the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission under which we set the ambitious target of deploying 20,000 MW of grid connected solar power by 2022. We will ensure this target is met well in advance (page 41)
This is the Congress brand of "inclusiveness" – name every scheme after a member of the Nehru-Gandhi Family and ensure the total exclusion of everyone else!
The manifesto claims that the party stands in sharp contrast to the divisive and disruptive ideology of theBJP. "We have always been the secular and progressive force in this country and strived to unite all religions, castes and communities in the
ideological battle against those who would polarize and divide our society", it says. However, days after the manifesto release, the Congress President Ms.Sonia Gandhi yet t6he Shahi Imam of Delhi's Jamma Masjid and other Muslim Clerics and urged them to ensure that the "secular vote" was not split in this election. This was the most direct appeal for Muslim votes and it also meant that the Hindu majority of India is not "secular". Only the religious minorities are.
On Democracy and Democratic Institutions:
The party's claims vis-ŕ-vis its commitment to democracy are the most dishonest. The manifesto says that the democratic Constitution and institutions are the cornerstone of Modern India. All of us, who wish to build a better India must respect these institutions and work through them. "We do not respond by subverting democratic institutions and blocking Parliament session after session, year after year ´the document says adding that "the Indian National Congress responds through legitimate peaceful, democratic and Constitutional means. These are the pillars on which our great Nation stands "We do not respond by subverting democratic institutions and blocking Parliament session after session, year after year.
This claim sounds so hollow when you see the Uttar Pradesh list of the party. The party has once again nominated Bhola Pandey, the man who hijacked a plane in December, 1978 to protest against the Lok Sabha's decision to expel Ms.Indira Gandhi. A day after the hijacking drama by Bhola Pandey and another youth congress worthy, bombs were hurled at the residence of Prof. Samar Guha, the Chairman of the Committee of Privileges which had indicted Ms. Gandhi for breach of privilege. That week saw unprecedented violence unleashed by the Congress in many parts of the country and led to the death of several persons and loss of public property. So much for the party's commitment to respect democratic institutions including parliament.
On Personality Cult:
What the Congress Party has to say about the personality cult is indeed the most laughable. Having thrived on the personality cult and vigorously promoted it during the days of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, the party is now all at sea and unable to offer a credible challenge to Mr.Narendra Modi. So, it makes the lofty claim that " no individual or authority can replace the values and processes of democratic governance". It further says: We do not respond by proposing either that the structures of democracy be handed to one single person or that they be viciously undermined.
The party obviously thinks that the fascist regime that it imposed on India between June 1975 and March 1977 under the guise of the Emergency is forgotten. This is the only party in India which equated an individual with the State. Its President Devkant Barooah's infamous quote "Indira is India and India is Indira" can never be forgotten. Nor can one forget constitutional amendments 39-42 which were brought specifically to provide relief to one individual – Indira Gandhi. The 42 Amendment even had a fascist provision that enabled the President, through an execute order, to amend the Constitution! Only Adolf Hitler had such provisions incorporated in the German Constitution. So, can we take the Congress seriously when it says "no individual or authority can replace values and processes….".
UPA's Vacuous Claims:
The manifesto claims that the 2009 Mandate was to safeguard and advance the interests of India's farmers and create an environment conducive to their prosperity. "This has been achieved in substantial measure".
Fact: Farmers' suicides in India have not abated. Statistics show that on an average nearly 17,000 farmers committed suicide every year between 2001-2011 and this works out to 46 suicides by farmers per day. Ten states recorded higher suicide rates in 2011 than in 2001 and the UPA claims that it created an environment conducive to their prosperity !
The manifesto claims that the Congress Party, if returned to power, will ensure that the recommendations of the second Administrative Reforms Commission, which was headed by Mr.Veerappa Moily, "are implemented in letter and spirit and monitored at every step". This claim must surely merit the status of a joke. This commission submitted its reports between 2006-2009. After allowing the commission's key findings regarding anti-corruption measures etc to gather dust for years, the Congress Party now suddenly wakes up and says "please give us another term. We will implemented the ARC Report!".
Further, the document announces a detailed Jobs Agenda to ensure that the government creates 100 million new jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities for the youth, if the party is returned to power. It also says it will provide skills training to these youth and provide them employment opportunities over the next five years. One must ask what the government was doing over the last ten years in this regard.
For many years now, the BJP has been demanding that the government make serious efforts to repatriate Indian black money that is stashed away in foreign banks. The Manmohan Singh government refused to take any worthwhile steps in this regard and even failed to act on valuable information and evidence provided by Germany about Indian black money in banks abroad. However, now the Congress Party claims that it made serious and systematic efforts to track down and recover
Black money and that "this determined effort will continue unabated". It also claimed the government, if returned to power, would appoint a special envoy to pursue this agenda. Given the government's inaction on this score for many years, this promise is not worth the paper on which it is printed.
The party's claim on the economic front must also be taken with a pinch of salt. After having brought down the GDP growth rate to just 4.5 per cent, the party claims that that it will continue its record of delivering India's highest growth rates. "We will restore India to 8% plus growth rate within 3 years: we will ensure that India has a globally competitive business and investment-friendly environment". Well, who stopped the Congress Party do this in the preceding three years?
Does the Congress deserve another chance?