Focus on youth likely in Congress manifesto

Anita Joshua

Indications of a promise of an employment-oriented programme

NEW DELHI: Generation Next is likely to be addressed directly with a promise of an employment-oriented programme by the Congress in its manifesto for the coming Lok Sabha elections. Though Congress leaders refused to divulge details, after the last meeting of the Manifesto Committee here on Saturday, there were ample indications of the youth-focus in the party’s strategy.

Briefing mediapersons, Congress media in-charge and member of the committee, Veerappa Moily, said 54 per cent of the population was below the age of 25 and there was need for the country to evolve a mechanism to cash in on this demographic dividend.

Pressed for more details, he said it was part of the party’s electoral strategy which could not be divulged now.

As to whether the Congress would orient its manifesto to any section as it did in 2004 when the “aam aadmi” was made central to its election strategy, Mr. Moily remained non-committal. All he was willing to state was that the committee had finalised its draft and the chairman, Pranab Mukherjee, would submit it to Congress president Sonia Gandhi. It will thereafter be presented to the Congress Working Committee for finalisation.

Stakeholders’ inputs

The committee had been working on the draft for close to six months now, drawing inputs from stakeholders representing various interest groups, Ministers, party leadership at all levels, and civil society activists advocating a wide range of issues. Asked whether the Congress had drawn up a slogan like ‘Congress ka haath, aam aadmi ke saath’ (hand of Congress is with the common man) — the party’s rallying point in 2004 — Manifesto Committee member Mani Shankar Aiyar shot back: “That is for the Publicity Committee to coin; we only provide the content.”

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