New Delhi, Apr 2: The Congress on Tuesday released its manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, promising Rs 72,000 annually to five crore poorest families under Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY), a host of incentives for youth wanting to start their own businesses, a simplified single slab Goods and Services Tax (GST) and filling up 22 lakh vacancies in the government by March 2020.
The manifesto, released at the party headquarters at 24 Akbar Road in New Delhi by Congress president Rahul Gandhi, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former union ministers and senior party leaders P Chidambaram and AK Antony, focuses on a 5-point plan of action -- 'Kaam', 'Daam', 'Shaan', 'Sushashan', 'Swabhimaan' and 'Samman' - boosting employment and growth, boosting economic growth, developing India’s hard and soft power, providing good governance through independent and accountable institutions, developing self-esteem for the deprived sections including women, scheduled castes and tribes, the religious and linguistic minorities. senior citizens and persons with disabilities and meeting healthcare and educational needs of the people.
Releasing the manifesto along with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, former Prime minister Manmohan Singh and senior leader P Chidambaram and AK Antony, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said the manifesto had been prepared after wide consultation with all sections of society to ensure that it reflects the voice of the people.
"Our manifesto process reflects our commitment to a higher vision, that of listening to the ‘Jan Awaz’. It is not the ‘Mann Ki Baat’ of one individual. It is the collective voice of the lakhs of individuals,’’ Rahul said in a foreword to the party manifesto.
"Our Manifesto Committee organised 121 consultations with the public and 53 consultations with experts such as farmers, entrepreneurs, economists, students, teachers, women’s groups, doctors, lawyers and many others. We held consultations in over 60 locations across 24 states and three union territories. We also met with NRI representatives from over 12 countries,’’ Rahul said.
"In this time of deep crisis, the Indian National Congress promises a clean break from the past five years. With this manifesto, the Congress offers to you the only national alternative: a distinct alternative that is unwavering in its commitment to truth, freedom, dignity, self-respect and prosperity for our people. We promise to make India strong and united, and a just and prosperous society,’’Rahul said.
Rahul said that the Congress would present a report card to the people every year on the progress of the implementation of promises made in the manifesto.
"We will present a report to the people of India, every year, on the status of implementation of our manifesto. We will also set up an independent social audit group, which will make its own assessment of how and to what extent we have fulfilled our promises,’’Rahul said.
Asserting that the abolition of poverty remains the foremost goal of the Congress and recalling with pride that the Congress-led UPA government lifted 14 crore people out of poverty between 2004 and 2014, the Congress has set the goal of elimination of abject poverty by the year 2030. In this context, it announced the Minimum Income Support Programme (MISP) or Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY), under which poorest 20 per cent families of the country would get Rs 72,000 per year if the party comes to power in 2019.
72,000 a year. As far as possible, the money will be transferred to the account of a woman of the family who has a bank account or who will be urged to open a bank account. There will a Design phase (3 months) followed by a Pilot and Testing phase (6–9 months) before roll-out.
The estimated cost will be less than 1 per cent of GDP in first Year and less than 2 per cent of GDP in second Year and thereafter. As the nominal GDP grows and families move out of poverty, the cost will decline as a proportion of GDP.
Congress will appoint an independent panel of eminent economists, social scientists and statisticians to oversee the design, testing, roll-out and implementation of the programme. The programme will move from one stage to the other only after a ‘go ahead’ from the panel. Congress intends to implement NYAY as a joint scheme of the Central and State Governments. The scheme will be funded through new revenues and rationalisation of expenditure. Current merit subsidy schemes that are intended to achieve specific objectives will be continued.'
The Congress goal is that ‘No Indian Family Shall Be Left Behind,' the manifesto said.
Terming the unemployment as the “gravest challenge to the country”, the Congress manifesto, noting that job creation is the highest priority for the economy, pledged to give the highest priority to protecting existing jobs and creating new jobs.
It also promised to create a new Ministry of Industry, Services and Employment to underline the link between the growth of the industry and services sectors and rapid creation of jobs.
Further it promised that all of the 4 lakh vacancies as on 1 April 2019 in the central government, central public sector enterprises, Judiciary and Parliament will be filled before the end of March 2020.
"As a condition for devolution of funds to the healthcare and education sectors and to Panchayats and Municipalities, Congress will request the state gGovernments to fill all vacancies, estimated at 20 lakh, in the two sectors and in local bodies,’’ it said.
Noting that MSMEs account for 90 per cent of all employment outside agriculture, the Congress said it will link the definition of MSME to employment.
"A business employing 10 persons or less will be ‘micro;’ between 11 and 100 will be ‘small;’ and between 101 and 500 will be ‘medium,’’it said.
The manifesto also promised to create an Enterprise Support Agency to help entrepreneurs, including start-ups, with all-round business support including counselling, incubation, access to technology, funding, domestic and export markets, and the creation of new products, services and intellectual property.
As a measure to boost employment, the Congress promised to increase the share of India’s manufacturing sector from the current level of 16 per cent of GDP to 25 per cent within a period of five years and to make India a manufacturing hub for the world.
Describing the ‘Smart Cities Mission’ of the BJP Government, which replaced the successful JNNURM, as a colossal failure and a waste of money with no visible results, the Congress said it will introduce a new model of governance for towns and cities through a directly elected mayor with a fixed term of five years, an elected Council and a separate administrative structure for each urban body.
The Congress promised to enhance infrastructure in rural areas and improve the quality of public goods such as roads, bridges, water supply, sanitation, electricity and schools. (UNI)