Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday released the party’s manifesto and claimed that the party will perform well in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.
The event was attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress Vice-president Rahul Gandhi, senior leaders Ajay Maken, Janardan Dwivedi and A K Antony, among others.
Rahul claimed that the Congress will repeat its victorious performance of 2009.
“India Shining' was a brilliant campaign but the Bharatiya Janata Party could not win. Just like the balloon of India Shining, this BJP campaign will also burst. We will repeat the 2009 performance," he said.
Reacting to the results of opinion polls that have predicted a stunning defeat for the Congress, Sonia said, “Don't trust opinion polls, we will do well and win them”.
Defending his government against myriad charges of corruption levelled by the BJP, Dr Singh said, “I have already proved that the BJP’s charges are not accurate. In a developing economy, graft cannot be wished away”.
Speaking on BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Modi’s claims of development, he said, “Development has many models, one is the Gujarat model. But the Congress model recognises there is a need for an expanding economy to provide lasting solution to poverty. That growth by itself is not sufficient for inclusive growth, t has to be backed by education, health needs of women, SC/ST and other citizens .People ask what is the record of the Congress party is but the Congress record is visible to everyone who cares to look at it. We were able to lift 14 crore people above poverty line. We provided an agenda for growth”.
Sonia claimed that the Congress, for ten years, had run an ‘aam aadmi’ government.
“The UPA has ensured development for the poor and the backward classes. The 2014 elections are about good policies and governance,” she said.
The Congress president added that “Rahul has taken the opinion of everyone for the manifesto”.
"We decided to go to the people for the first time,” said Rahul, adding that it had taken the party five months to put together the document.
Of the tens and thousands of suggestions generated by these consultations, the manifesto presents 15 points, chief among them being the right to health, pension, social security, right to dignity and humane working conditions, and right to entrepreneurship.
Congress promised to push economic growth rate to 8 per cent in the next three years, create 10 crore jobs and take firm steps to contain inflation.
In its manifesto for the upcoming elections released by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, the party also pledged to encourage Foreign Direct Investment and push Goods and Services Tax and Direct Taxes Code within one year of coming into power.
The party also expressed its commitment to create a national consensus on affirmative action for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for jobs in the private sector.
The 15-point agenda for socio-economic and political transformation include initiatives like promoting flexible labour laws, systemic efforts to recover black money and increasing health expenditure to 3 per cent of GDP.
Indian economy, which grew by over 9 per cent before the 2008 global financial crisis, has slipped to decade's low of 4.5 per cent in 2012-13. In the current fiscal, it is estimated to expand by 4.9 per cent.
"Continuing our record of delivering India's highest growth rates, we will restore India to 8 per cent plus growth rate within 3 years," the manifesto said adding that government would continue to take firm action to control inflation even in difficult global economic scenario.
As regards jobs creation, the manifesto said, that within 100 days of coming into power the party would announce "a detailed jobs agenda to ensure that we create 10 crore new jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities for our youth."
Image: A poster of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi