The Indian National Congress (INC) on Tuesday released its much-anticipated manifesto for the ensuing Lok Sabha elections with a firm resolve to scrap the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
The manifesto opens with a vow from the AICC president Rahul Gandhi that says: ‘I’ve never broken a promise that I’ve made.’
Notably this time the Congress has invited suggestions from cross sections of the people from nook and corner of the entire country.
As such the foreword by Rahul Gandhi justifiably states that ‘every single word in the Congress manifesto reflects your voices and the aspirations of crores of Indians’.
The Congress manifesto is based primarily on ‘Kaam, Daam, Shaan, Sushashan, Swabhimaan, Samman’ (work, value, prestige, good governance, self esteem and respect).
Dedicating a whole page to the Northeast, the Congress primarily is approaching the voters of the region by taking a determined resolve to put the CAB in the pyres.
The Congress in the manifesto affirmed that the north-eastern states are a unique and valued part of India that bring into the nation many diverse and rich cultures, languages, traditions and bio-diversity.
The Congress stated that the party is committed to ‘defend and protect’ the interests of the region and their people and to ensuring the rapid economic development of the region.
Some of the highlights of the Congress manifesto with regard to the Northeast are:
Congress promises to restore the Special Category status to the northeastern states.
Congress promises an industrial policy for the Northeast.
The party also promises to ensure that no citizen of India is denied inclusion in the final National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The INC promises to address the issue of illegal immigration into the region through consultation with all the north-eastern states and evolve a consensus on the legislative measures that will secure the identity of the indigenous communities. The party also assures to engage the neighbouring countries, Bangladesh and Myanmar, to address and resolve the issue of illegal immigration into India.
The Congress also promises to strengthen the security of the borders of the north-eastern states with Bangladesh, Myanmar and China, resolve any border issues through dialogue with the neighbouring countries and make the borders ‘borders of prosperity and growth;’ and also assured to resolve the pending inter-state issues, including boundary issues, in the north-eastern states through dialogue or mediation.
The Congress in its manifesto also underscored the importance of border trade to the economy of the north-eastern states. Regular export and import trade will also create huge economic opportunities, including more jobs, in the region. “We promise to take bold and innovative measures to enhance trade in general, and border trade in particular, with neighbouring countries and other countries further to the east,” the manifesto stated.
The Congress also assures to strengthen the North Eastern Council (NEC) and take steps to expand and reinforce the original mandate of the Council.
The party also assures to take up a comprehensive review of the policies and special programmes that are under implementation in the north-eastern states and make changes wherever necessary.
The Congress also promises to substantially increase the budget outlays for infrastructure and social sector development in the north-eastern states, especially for railways, roads, communication, connectivity and tourism. “We will provide sufficient funds to address the development gaps in education and healthcare,” it further read.
The INC also promises to leverage the rich bio-diversity and natural resources of the region to generate livelihood opportunities in sustainable agriculture, horticulture and organic farming.
“We will use modern technology to harness the waters of the Brahmaputra and to find a permanent solution to the problems of flood and soil erosion. We will examine the opportunity provided by the mighty Brahmaputra to create a multi-modal transport system in the north-eastern region,” the manifesto stated.
The Congress while acknowledging the importance of Autonomous District Councils within the region, promises to enhance financial assistance to these Councils.
The Congress also promises to ensure that tea garden workers are paid their due wages and given other benefits in accordance with the laws applicable to them and according to the bilateral agreements.
The INC has acknowledged that the 2019 elections are crucial for the country’s future and for the future of the young generation.