A separate budget for farmers, filing up 22 lakh government vacancies and giving Rs 72,000 each to five crore poor families under the NYAY scheme were few of the key promises the Congress party made in its election manifesto for 2019 Lok Sabha elections, which was released on Tuesday. The 55-page manifesto titled ‘Hum Nibhayenge’ (We will deliver) was released by Congress president Rahul Gandhi who was accompanied by several party leaders, including UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, senior leader P Chidambaram.
Speaking at the launch event, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said, "The manifesto is a massive step for Congress. When we started this process a year back, I told them that this manifesto should reflect the wishes of the people and whatever is present in the document should be truthful."
Terming the manifesto "voice of the people", the Congress chief said, "This is not a manifesto made in closed rooms. NYAY, jobs and farmers are among our focal points. NYAY will help the economy. We will deliver money to the poorest people in the country."
On the party's showpiece minimum income guarantee scheme or Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY), the party's manifesto promised to give Rs 72,000 per year to the poorest 20 per cent households in India.
The Congress president said that their government will put the farmers from the path of "Karz Maafi" (loan waiver), to "Karz Mukti"(freedom from loans) through remunerative prices, lower input costs, and assured access to institutional credit. He also promised to make loan default case for farmers a civilian offence instead of a criminal.
Gandhi said that Congress will allocate 6 per cent of GDP to education, strengthen government hospitals and give high-quality healthcare access to poor if voted to power. The party also promised to enact the Right to Healthcare Act and guarantee every citizen free diagnostics, out-patient care, free medicines and hospitalisation, through a network of public hospitals and enlisted private hospitals.
On GST tax, the Congress said that it will radically simplify the GST regime with a single moderate rate of tax, zero-rating of exports, and exemption for essential goods and services. It also promised panchayats and municipalities a share of GST revenues.
The Congress party vowed to make jobs its top priority, saying it will ensure 34 lakh jobs in the public sector by filling all 4 lakh central government vacancies before March 2020, persuading the state governments to fill 20 lakh vacancies and creating an estimated 10 lakh new Seva Mitra positions in every gram panchayat and urban local bodies.
On women empowerment, the main Opposition party promised to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill to provide 33 percent of seats for women in the Lok Sabha and the State Legislative Assemblies in the very first session of the 17th Lok Sabha.
(With agency inputs)