Lok Sabha polls: Congress back to basics, reaches out to poor in manifesto with socialist outlook

With NYAY as the central idea, Congress president Rahul Gandhi released a back-to-basic, pro-poor manifesto, emphasising that it will change the “divisive” narrative propagated by the BJP

NH Photo by Vipin
NH Photo by Vipin
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NH Political Bureau

With NYAY as the central idea, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday released a back-to-basic, pro-poor manifesto, just a week before India goes to polls on April 11, emphasising that the manifesto will change or alter the “divisive” narrative propagated by the BJP.

Releasing the 54-page manifesto titled “Congress will deliver,” the Congress president maintained that the BJP has been trying to shift the narrative as it failed to deliver on its promises but Congress will highlight the real issues and deliver what it promised in its manifesto.

“ When we started this process about a year back I spoke to Mr. Chidambaram and Mr. Gowda and gave them two instructions. I said this is not to be a manifesto made in close rooms...This manifesto should reflect the wishes of the people of India. And, whatever is going to be in this manifesto has to be truthful. I do not want a single thing in this manifesto that is a lie because we have been hearing a large number of lies spoken everyday by our Prime Minister,” asserted Rahul Gandhi.

Congress will reap the political dividends from the pro-poor, progressive manifesto, commented a political analyst in a TV debate, immediately after the release.

“Whenever in the past, Congress went to the election with a pro-poor, socialist agenda, it paid political dividends and Congress recorded victory with huge margin,” said a senior journalist, recalling 1971 election in which former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi coined the “Gareebi Hatao” slogan.

“The election proved to be a watershed moment in the post-independence history of India. Poor has become the talking point of the Indian polity. Rahul is trying to invoke the same idea and impression what his grandmother did during the 1971 elections.”

Another Congress watcher, however, termed the back-to-basic, pro-poor manifesto as the defence mechanism of the grand old party.

“Whenever Congress plunges into a crisis, it goes back to the basics and to the poor. Poor which constitutes over 20% of the total population also trust the grand old party,” he said.

Political commentators believe Congress won 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha elections consequently because of the pro-poor policies such as MGNREGA and Right to Food, etc.

With pro-poor policies derived from socialist outlook, Rahul is going to repeat the same old formula which secured victory for the party in the past, said a Delhi watcher.

When asked how the Congress party will counter the divisive and communal agenda spearheaded by the BJP, Rahul Gandhi replied with optimism that “the agenda before the nation is 1) unemployment 2) distress in farming sector and 3) women’s security.”

“There is nothing in the manifesto that is a lie,” said the Congress party president, dismissing the criticism of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has dubbed the NYAY as “not workable” scheme.

Rahul said, “I agree it is not doable for the BJP. But it is doable for the Congress.”

Many believe, Rahul Gandhi, like a very far-sighted and true politician, has zeroed in on three of the most important sectors - poor, farmers and unemployed youths in the manifesto. Resentment against the Modi government is very high in all three sector, said a Congress watcher, adding that haphazard reactions from the BJP over NYAY shows that Rahul Gandhi’s pro-poor, back to basic manifesto will work.

BJP took no time to dub the election manifesto as “dangerous and unimplementable”. Addressing a press conference at the BJP headquarters, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Congress does not deserve “even a single vote” for its promises, such as doing away with sedition law.

Debunking Jaitley’s charges, Randeep Surjewala asked, “Why is BJP opposing NYAY ?”

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