Flavours of Elections– The Congress Manifesto

The election manifesto of the Congress promotes pro-growth policies in multitude of sectors. Among several other things, the 54-paged manifesto promises to make multiple interventions in the judicial wing of the Constitution to make the country better. A chunk of the manifesto contains promises regarding improvement in the field of Judiciary. However, the changes suggested appears nothing new, and are the ones that have been debated for several decades. For instance, conversion of the Supreme Court into a Constitutional Court which would address cases pertaining to the interpretation of the Constitution itself is suggested. Enhanced representation of Judiciary in underrepresented areas and establishment of a fresh Court of Appeal are among the several proposals stated.

The proposal of the Constitutional Court is an irrational idea. Repetition of the same proposal made by the Tenth Commission of India under Justice K. K. Mathew of having two parts within the Supreme Court of India—the Legal Court and the Constitutional Court—seems extremely worthless. Sonia Gandhi mentioned in one of her speeches at a conclave in the year 2018, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had labeled Congress as a ‘Muslim party”. This important inference did have an impact on the 2019 Congress manifesto where they did not talk about the Muslim population of India as much as they did in the year 2014. The word ‘Muslim’ in fact doesn’t find mention for even once in the 2019 Congress manifesto and it has been clubbed with other religious minorities.

The rural population is expected to significantly shape the course of the 2019 General elections and hence, both BJP and Congress have devoted sufficient attention to announce certain measures to woo them. Few promises made by the Congress to lure the farmer community are:
i) Decriminalization of farm loan defaults
ii) Outstanding farm loan waiver (without mentioning whether the nature of this would be nationwide or state specific
iii) Redesigning of crop insurance schemes
iv) To set up National Commission on Agricultural Development in order to monitor issues related to this sector and replace the existing CACP
v) Repeal the 150 days’ work scheme under MNREGA to guarantee a basic minimum income
vi) Establishment of a Commission on Marginal Farmers and Agricultural Labourers.

Several critics and analysts have termed the Congress manifesto “reformist”. Moreover, the manifesto promises that there will be a redistribution of 3.6% of the GDP among the population comprising the poorest strata of India. Despite the vagueness of the promises and unsure impact of the minimum guaranteed income reform on the labour-market, the Congress manifesto is a firm reminder that a social-democratic party is excellent at fostering welfare expansions.

The manifesto also suggests a few reforms, which if implemented appropriately can benefit India in the growth and investment landscapes. It uses a term known as “tax terrorism” which is a direct outcome of extreme discretionary powers at the hands of taxmen, and hence, has throttled several sectors and industries. Reforming the tax administration landscape of India can help the country escape from the dark shadow of tax terrorism which can cause beneficiary reforms at a national level. The repeated accusations against the behavioral aspect of tax authorities are also addressed in the manifesto.

As an attempt to encourage industrialization, and boost small scale and medium scaled industries, the manifesto frees such organizations to file any paperwork in the initial years. The kind of reforms suggested actually makes sense. They also induce a sense of shame in the BJP government as it was their party that stood for small scale businesses. On the contrary, the BJP has failed to come up with such transformative ideas. They have just made continuous efforts to gather vote by proposing populist economic and social reforms which cause superficial ripples only.

However, one cannot overlook the simple fact that Congress’s act of promising to waive off farm loans worth 2 lakh rupees and providing salary grant for five years at a stretch, does appear seemingly impossible in the next decade.

Picture Courtesy- Wikipedia

This article is a part of the ‘Of Tugs and Tussles: General Election 2019’ feature series where we focus on quality content written and chosen to focus on specific areas surrounding elections. Find a link to other articles of this feature series here: 

Flavours of Elections– Analysing the BJP Manifesto

2019 Elections–Promise of a Better Future?

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