M A I N   N E W S

Cong to focus on unemployment, farmers’ plight
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 9
The draft manifesto discussed and adopted at a marathon session of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) is learnt to have shunned populism but promised “continuity with change.”

The 35-page draft manifesto, prepared by a special committee headed by senior leader Pranab Mukherjee, has a special focus on the burning issues of growing unemployment and the plight of farmers. While the manifesto is learnt to have referred to these issues, the Congress is also planning to bring out separate “annexures” or papers on economic policies, social empowerment and agriculture, given the significance it attaches to these issues.

Party sources said while highlighting the NDA government’s failures, the manifesto made a strong case for why the people should vote for the Congress and not the BJP-led alliance.

The document emphasised that it was the Congress which introduced economic reforms and stated that unlike the NDA government, their implementation of these policies would be far better. The document, it was stated, also accepted the need for forging alliances. Other issues which had been highlighted in the document included education and food security.

According to party sources, this time round, the Congress manifesto was more direct in its attack and criticism of the NDA government and its policies. Last time, it was stated, the party was weighed down by the baggage of having toppled the Vajpayee government, its inability to form an alternate government and its criticism of Kargil which did not go down well with the public.

In yet another attempt to win over reluctant allies, the CWC also adopted a statement today listing out the NDA government’s “acts of omission and commission” and the BJP’s role in fuelling communal passions and forging opportunistic alliances.

While highlighting the inherent dangers of such a government returning to power, the Congress reaffirmed its offer to “forge a solid phalanx of secular political forces” in its effort to thwart the NDA’s pursuit for power.

The two-page statement declared it that it was the Congress party’s historical responsibility to “save the country from this ominous danger.”

Besides recalling the historical role played by the RSS, the statement highlighted how the NDA government had “weakened the sinews of governance” and attempted to tamper with the country’s Constitution. It pointed to the scams and scandals which surfaced during the NDA regime, referred to the worsening internal security situation and the plight of farmers.

Congress leaders said with the country headed for an important and crucial election, the party felt the need to reassert its commitment to secularism.

On the other hand, the statement chronicled the achievements of the successive Congress governments which, it was stated, had laid the foundations of a modern India. In this context, it recalled the contributions made by Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.


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