‘Nyay Patra’ manifesto | Congress promises raising 50% quota cap, caste census

Party releases manifesto with ‘justice’ as its theme; Rahul Gandhi says the election is being closely fought and not as it is made out to be, and the INDIA bloc will emerge victorious

Updated - April 06, 2024 01:22 am IST

Published - April 05, 2024 11:54 am IST - New Delhi

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge along with party leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and P. Chidambaram releases the party’s manifesto for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections during a press conference, at AICC headquarters in New Delhi on April 5, 2024

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge along with party leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and P. Chidambaram releases the party’s manifesto for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections during a press conference, at AICC headquarters in New Delhi on April 5, 2024 | Photo Credit: ANI

Framing the Lok Sabha election as a contest between those who want to “destroy” the Indian Constitution and democracy and those who want to protect it, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi at the launch of his party’s poll manifesto on Friday asserted that the election will be closely contested and that the Opposition will win the battle.

The 45-page manifesto, released by party president Mallikarjun Kharge, has been named Nyay Patra (Document for Justice) as it revolves around the theme of justice (paanch nyay or five pillars of justice) and 25 guarantees. This includes the right to apprenticeship (to every diploma holder or graduate below 25 years); making MSP a legal right; filling 30 lakh vacancies in government posts; constitutional amendments to remove the 50% cap on reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs; nationwide caste census; implementing 10% reservation in jobs and educational institutions for economically weaker sections (EWS); and scrapping the Agnipath recruitment scheme for the armed forces.

Here is what the manifesto broadly promises to achieve if the party is brought to power:

Key takeaways from Congress manifesto
Focus on five ‘pillars of justice’ — including ‘Yuva Nyay’, ‘Naari Nyay’, ‘Kisaan Nyay’, ‘Shramik Nyay’ and ‘Hissedari Nyay’
 Abolish the Agnipath programme and direct the armed forces to resume normal recruitment to achieve full sanctioned strength
Restore full Statehood to Jammu and Kashmir, grant Statehood Puducherry
Guarantee of national minimum wage at ₹400 per day
Launch of Mahalakshmi scheme to provide ₹1 lakh per year to every poor Indian family
Promise to fill nearly 30 lakh vacancies in sanctioned posts at various levels in the central government
Implement 10% quota in jobs, educational institutions for economically weaker sections (EWS) for all castes, communities without discrimination 
Rajasthan model of cashless insurance of up to ₹25 lakh will be adopted for universal healthcare
Constitutional amendment to raise the 50% cap on reservations for SC, ST and OBC
A nationwide socio-economic and caste census
 Law to recognize civil unions between couples belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community
A new ‘right to apprenticeship act’ to provide one-year apprenticeship to every diploma holder or graduate below age of 25
Legal guarantee to Minimum Support Prices announced by the government every year as recommended by the Swaminathan Commission
Launch of an urban employment programme guaranteeing work for urban poor in reconstruction, renewal of urban infrastructure

Also read: Lok Sabha elections LIVE updates - April 5

The other key promises in the manifesto include universal healthcare - the “Rajasthan Model” of cashless treatment with health insurance up to ₹25 lakh; cash transfer of ₹1 lakh per year to every Indian family at the bottom of income pyramid; 50% reservation for women in Central government jobs; and implementing one-third reservation for women in State Assemblies from the 2025 round of elections, among others.

However, the manifesto is silent on bringing back the Old Pension Scheme (OPS), a key promise made by the party in all the previous Assembly elections.

During an interactive session after the launch, Mr. Gandhi targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and alleged that the “capture of institutions” that started in 2019 has now reached its peak. Mr. Modi wants to have a monopoly over political financing through the capture of Enforcement Directorate, Central Bureau of Investigation and the Income Tax Department, he claimed.

“Narendra Modi has given a chargesheet to the Opposition through the electoral bond scheme. That is why he is feeling terrorised and that is why the number [BJP’s poll target] has come to 400-plus... if ‘400 paar’ does not happen and it is in the range 180 and 140 then their ship will sink,” Mr. Gandhi said.

Asked about the number of seats the Congress and the Opposition are likely to win, he said, “Unlike many political commentators, I cannot predict the future. What I am confident of is that this is a much closer election than what is being propagated by the media. We are going to fight an excellent election and we are going to win the election.”

“INDIA [Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance] has decided that we are together fighting an ideological election. After winning the election, the whole coalition will jointly decide who will be the leader, the PM,” the former Congress chief responded when asked about the Opposition’s prime ministerial face.

Recalling how the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led BJP government lost in 2004 despite the “India Shining” campaign, Mr. Gandhi claimed that after accounts of the Congress were frozen, the party was left with its “original path to go to the people”. “This [manifesto] reflects the voice of India, we have only written it,” he added.

“I urge everyone to have a close look at our manifesto and you will see a shandaar tasveer [beautiful picture] of our country in it,” Mr. Kharge said, adding, “We will open the doors to the poor when we come to power”.

Congress Parliamentary Party chairperson Sonia Gandhi, former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, who headed the manifesto committee, and general secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal were among those on the dais during the launch of the manifesto.

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