Devil is in the details: Highlighting some controversial points in Congress Manifesto 2019
Yesterday Congress official launched its manifesto for 2019 General Elections. Congress is fighting this election as opposition as in 2014 they were badly defeated on Severe Corruption issue or scams erupted then. Till now they are battling in courts with some of those issues.
I would very briefly Highlight some of the controversial issues of the newly launched Congress manifesto of 2019.
Firstly at the start of their manifesto they gave the moto that “Congress will Deliver” which is more a slogan and less a fact as from past history they have’t implemented much of their promises that did catch an eye of voters. To name a few- Women Reservation promised in 2009, 2014 & now, Health care has always been lip service since 2004, Power to each household was dream sold by many in the congress. Factually they made this promise in 2004, 2009, 2014 and now. Worst was the compromise upon National Security whose modernization was severely affected.
Take very recent example of promises not being fulfilled after winning the state elections of Madhya Pradesh where Rahul Gandhi promised loan waivers to the all farmers upto 2 lakhs* (In MP Manifesto).
Again in 2019 Manifesto Congress has promised many such lollipops to the voters. They have written on page 16 point 07 that as in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh after forming governments Congress has waived farmer loans it will do the same for other states as well. Now one wonders how a National Party can bluntly lie to nation when they haven’t waived off any such loans in the ruling state! An interesting point to note is that they did not take name of Punjab which had almost two years after forming government and Punjab Congress claims to have waived off loans of the farmers but according to many reports they still have not waived of loans fully as was promised. So why did they not write the name of Punjab as an example? Perhaps because firstly it has been two years after forming government that they were able to settle more loan waive (in current years Punjab budget) so it would have clearly send wrong signal. Second it might be possible that this would have given opposition in Punjab another tool against Congress in the elections.
Another aspect in their manifesto states that Congress will not allow any criminal proceedings to be instituted against a farmer who is unable to pay his/her debt. Now this is serious as it will weaken the positions of the banks which are coming out of stress due to NPAs. Also their is no clear detail of how this will happen as those public sector banks who are independent can technically choose any action they deemed fit in case by case basis. Also nothing is said how money for such waiver will be made available (-obvious route could be levying more taxes).
Now on jobs creation front which was made one of the biggest issues against the BJP Government. Here also there is nothing concrete being said or shared. In fact it seems onus is being shifted to the respective state governments to fill the vacancies without mentioning of provision of supporting them financially. There is no mention of creating regular authentic job data by independent agency so government can keep up with the deficiencies if spotted. Focus seems on filling of vacancies and less on creating new jobs.
Their announcement of NYAY (Minimum Pay scheme): In this they say to target 5 crore families with ₹ 72,000/- per year Guaranteed via money being transferred to the women’s account. Anyone can calculate that if all the 5 crore families were to be given this much amount per year it will cost hell a lot which would mean clearly increase in Taxes to all other classes of tax payers or closing of current schemes being in service for poor like health care, gas connection, building houses, electricity, sanitation works, etc. will have to take a hit.
But as we dig deep it proves that actually devil is in the details. On page 20, point 9 it mentions that this scheme will be in phases. First phase design of 3 months, Followed by pilot and testing phase of 6-9 months before actual being rolled out. More so later it says that Congress intends to implement NYAY scheme as a joint scheme of state and center governments. But as Congress is only in six states; how it can then be called Congress scheme if BJP states will have to contribute in it. It seems Congress knew the financial impact so they have come up with such condition so later it can be presented as an excuse as not many state are financially sound.
The next is of scrapping GST. In the manifesto page 21- Taxation & Reforms it is said that newer version GST 2.0 will be introduced which will have single rate. As a management student I know this will lead to inflation rise for at least medium run. India as a country can’t be compared to well developed or countries with low populations where poverty is under control as India is developing well holistically bringing all the classes out of poverty at same rate. For all it would mean disastrous in the economy.
Then comes the restricted usage of Aadhaar; (on page 32) keeping it only for subsidies, benefits and services provided by the government. This could be a blow to many startups as it will raise cost of compliance for doing Know Your Customer guidelines in any kind financial services. It will put some burden on companies to keep manpower or outsource this job of KYC and related documents’ verification which is otherwise very quick and easier with Aadhaar, ultimately putting financial burden on corporates especially on financial institutions. On same page they have also stated to investigate Rafale deal even after given clean chit by Supreme Court & Comtroller Auditor General (CAG).
On page number 33 point number 27 another serious issue was scrapped. Congress says that they will Withdraw the infamous Citizenship Amendment Bill, which caused widespread resentment in only some of north eastern states instead to amend it to make it more suitable to such state Congress bluntly calls to scrap it. For those who don’t know it bill deals with very serious Humanitarian issue, it purposes to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship as they are being persecuted in their countries.
Another major controversial issue is Congress promises to omit Section 124A (defines offence of ‘sedition’) of IPC reason given is that it is misused. It is prudent to say here that their are many laws in IPC that is heavenly misused like 498A, Sexual harssement laws, etc. the misuse of such laws can be observed from the fact many courts jugements & low conviction rates; but instead focusing more on police reform & making police independent of interference by politicians or in other words instead of correcting the system & its relative processes in place, Congress Presumes India as Developed mature democracy where such things are non existent and do not pose any threat. I am afraid a myopic view of a complex picture of India as whole. In fact courts has already placed many reasonable restriction in place so to avoid its misuse. Lastly outright scrapping section 124A is not best suited in current times as it could well worsen the already delicate societal fabric of India especially when we are dealing with cross border terrorism, Moist movements, Influx of illegal immigrants, various secessionist movements, etc.
Another alarming issue is that congress says that they will amend Code of criminal Procedure & related laws to affirm the principle that ‘Bail will be the rule and jail exception’ it seems Congress party lives in some dream land of their imagination as this purposely clearly has huge potential of being misused to worsen law & order situation of the country. In ideal society which is matured & well prosperous this could be best scenario but one has to look with respect of own country situation. Another points raised by critics or experts of laws is that this should remain as exclusive domain of judiciary only which seems fair.
Similarly Congress proposes to amend the Armed Forces (special powers) Act. This has been criticized by many domain experts their argument is that in disturbed areas it act as a minimal safeguard for the central armed forces as it states that they only need to take permission of respective state government prior registering First Information Report against any Central armed Security forces personal which in most cases are given this act just ensure to filter only fake report & allow only Genuine case to pass through. Also here one should note as situation normalizes AFSPA is revoked like it has been done in North eastern areas.
Another fact is a reference to “Kashmiri Pandits’ and their ethnic cleansing from the Valley is conspicuously absent in the Manifesto which make it odd when a whole separate chapter on J&K is given. Critics says that Congress has always been soft on terror. Late Shri Rajiv Gandhi introduced TADA. Later the Congress revoked it. It revoked POTA. Now it wants to go further soft on separatism and terrorism. Congress also is in view to talk with every party whether separatist which clearly does not want any talks other than separation of the state on basis of religion. Talk that have been failed every time tried by many iconic leaders of their eras. It seems congress want a status quo or happy to see even slight worse situation. There is no talk of DE-radicalization of youth unchecked black money or laundered money via hawala transaction being used for Anti India activities. Their is also no mention of Triple talaq, Section 370, Section 35-A, Population explosion, Common Civil Law, Ram mandir, Promoting Dairy & preserving local cow breeds, etc. Since some of these were even talked about by many supports of congress & all issues are important in nature.
Another funny thing one can spot is Congress acceptance of Electronic Voting Machines which it directly indirectly criticized in more one occasion, in fact where ever congress lost this was made the reason, also all parties of grand alliance were against EVMs. A transparent (to keep eye on black money) yet maintaining privacy way to donating any party is being opposed as Congress purposed to scrap Electoral Bond Scheme. Interestingly Readers must note that Congress Pranab Mukherjee (than finance minister in Congress) himself introduced concept of electoral trusts which was similar concept to eliminate Black Money of any kind to political parties. Congress has shown its stance on AMU & JMI as minority educational institutions rather than as National education institutions.
Congress also says that they will undertake a comprehensive review of the governance structure of PSBs and implement changes to Public Sector Banks. Interestingly readers should note that recent banking scams such as of Nirav Modi or other which used phone banking so we really don’t know what is actual changes they are looking for so voter must ask further questions. They also purpose to amalgamate some PSBs.
Congress also wants National Security Council (NSC) and the office of National Security Adviser (NSA) to come under the control of Parliament. Although it sounds good, there are inherent problems with the issue. This would mean that relative autonomy in taking decisions related to national security may take a blow. National security issues can’t be a matter of political interference. This also has the potential for compromising national security. Congress will hold the District Administration responsible for riots, caste or communal violence, large scale crimes against women, and for the widespread breakdown of law and order, meaning Congress government will start interfering in State Subject of maintaining law & order and blaming DM for everything.
They also want to pass a law to preserve the freedom of the Internet and to prevent arbitrary and frequent shutdowns of the Internet. Interestingly in case of riots because of misinformation being spread, this temporary restriction to internet is used as a tool to prevent any further damages to law & order situation by Local Government or District magistrate but by taking away this tool & holding District magistrate responsible for riots or law & order seems contradictory.
Congress wants to introduce Diversity Index as a metric to assess and ensure diversity in all government bodies, semi-government agencies, public sector enterprises and other public bodies, Interestingly no one for sure know what it may mean, how it will be implemented. Congress wants to remove all provisions stipulating pre-qualifications (such as minimum education) for candidates at elections to local bodies. Congress also want to setup an independent Judicial Complaints Commission now what it will be, how it will work i leave it to experts to interpret. Congress also wants to omit Section 499 such point needs to be explain by experts to the public.
On page 37 point 33 is on Media. They want to amend the Press Council of India Act, 1978 as they say it will strengthen the system of self-regulation, protect the freedom of journalists, uphold editorial independence and guard against government interference.They also wants amend the Cinematograph Act, 1927 to restrict censorship of films to grounds of national security and obscenity. Congress views current scenario in media is being controlled by Business Houses and will refer such cases of suspected monopolies to the Competition Commission of India. They want to pass a law for it.
Lastly Congress is also opposing Niti Aayog which was grand change as it respect true federalism & democratic structure to form policies suggestion. Niti Aayog is a policy think tank of the Government of India. Its aim to achieve Sustainable Development Goals and to enhance cooperative federalism by fostering the involvement of State Governments of India in the economic policy-making process using a bottom-up approach Unlike Planning commission which uses Top Down approach and pushes its decision down the states.
I hope to make aware our people to make a right choice when casting their vote. Any feedback on errors is welcomed.
Disclaimer: All the information is taken from Publicly available sources. Author here expresses his views based on the information available at the time of writing so readers are advised form their own opinions.