Lok Sabha election | Congress plans to reach every household with 25 guarantees and ‘paanch nyay

CWC approves manifesto, which is likely to have a section on electoral bonds; the BJP will meet its ‘India shining’ moment in 2024 too, Kharge says

Updated - March 19, 2024 10:27 pm IST

Published - March 19, 2024 10:22 pm IST - New Delhi

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge speaks with Parliamentary Party Chairperson Sonia Gandhi during the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi on March 19, 2024

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge speaks with Parliamentary Party Chairperson Sonia Gandhi during the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi on March 19, 2024 | Photo Credit: ANI

Asserting that the BJP’s guarantees for 2024 Lok Sabha polls would be another “India shining” moment, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) on March 19 urged its office-bearers to ensure that the party’s 25 guarantees and five pillars of justice or paanch nyay reached every household in India.

After a three-hour discussion, the CWC approved the manifesto that will also include a section on electoral bonds. Former party chief Rahul Gandhi told the closed door CWC meeting that the electoral bond scheme had “exposed the BJP’s corruption and extortion tactics”.

Setting the tone and tenor of the meeting in his opening remarks at the CWC, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge asserted that the country was “fervently demanding a change”. “The guarantees currently being touted by the present government would have the same fate as that of the ‘India Shining’ slogan of 2004,” Mr. Kharge said.

The Congress manifesto will revolve around the theme of the five nyay of the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra: Hissedari nyay, Yuva nyay, Naari nyay, Shramik nyay. (justice based on share; for youth, women and workers)

Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, who headed the Manifesto Committee, made a presentation of the document. Sources said Mr. Gandhi as well as party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra underscored the point that the document needs to be made in every language without losing the original essence of the promises.

Mr. Kharge lauded Mr. Gandhi for leading Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra and bringing people’s issues to the centre stage. Mumbai, where the yatra concluded on last Saturday, is an important place for the party, he said, since the Congress was formed there and it was there that the freedom movement got its final fillip with the Quit India Movement in 1942.

Addressing a press conference after the meeting, party general secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal said the document would be a game changer. “…Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s guarantees are all lies. What about the ones he gave in 2014? Where are the two crore jobs he promised or the ₹15 lakh in every bank account or doubling the farmer’s income,” Mr. Venugopal said. Apart from the paanch nyays, the closed door discussion included suggestions for a stringent law on violence and hate crimes against particular castes, religious communities, gender groups and LGBTQ groups, among others.

Mr. Gandhi and All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Priyanka Vadra Gandhi told the meeting that the manifesto was a political document that had to be translated into all languages. They requested leaders from every State to get involved in the translation so that it is not translated word-to-word but reflected the essence of the guarantees.

Sources said Mr. Gandhi had specifically talked of the issue of electoral bonds and said the controversy showed the BJP’s corrupt face and it needed to be taken to the people. The meeting decided to bring electoral bonds as an issue to be countered in the party’s manifesto. All State in-charges were asked to prepare a plan over the next 10 days so that these 25 guarantees reached every household. The CWC is learnt to have evaluated that media would not take the Congress manifesto to the people and the party would have to take steps towards popularising it.

Many speakers felt that the BJP was misusing the Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax Department, and the Central Bureau of Investigation, and that the party had “hijacked” these institutions. The felt the manifesto should have objective points to restore the impartiality of constitutional institutions. There was a discussion on extending the work days under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) from 100 to 200. However, a final decision was not taken on this.

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