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OpinionsNyay Patra 2024 of the Indian National Congress-II

Nyay Patra 2024 of the Indian National Congress-II


by Dr. Jaipal Singh

Releasing ‘The Manifesto'

continued ….

The Congress feels that the 106th Constitutional amendment for the participation of women in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies marks is a great betrayal to women by the ruling BJP with sinister designs, which will come into force only beyond 2029 (reasons were also explained by the minister  in Parliament while passing the bill). So the Congress has promised the deletion of the sinister (not explained?) provisions from the Act for its immediate implementation with effect from 2025. The other significant promises are 50 per cent reservation for women in central government starting in 2025, women to be appointed in high positions as judges, secretaries and police & law officers in the government as also as directors on the board of companies. The principles of “same work same pay” will be applied to women, strict laws for offences against women will be enforced, financial credit to women facilitated, contribution from the central government for various schemes at the local self-government level doubled, and equal rights to women in marriage, succession, inheritance, adoption, guardianship etc. shall be ensured. Of course, any details or explanations are not available as to how and in what time-frame all this empowerment of women will take place, including enabling laws and required financial support but this new found love of the party for women is welcome and appreciable.


IV – Farmers

Farmers and farming sector are yet another priority and focus areas in the Congress manifesto with a total 24 promises under the sub-heading (14) and Fisheries and Fishing Communities (10). Referring to now withdrawn three agricultural Acts introduced in 2019-20, the Nyay Patra says that the BJP has been callous and brutal to the farmers and the Congress is the only party that listens to them. While making tall promises for the progress and welfare of farmers, the Congress inter alia has promised a legal guarantee to the minimum support prices (MSP) to all crops as recommended by the Swaminathan Commission. Besides, the existing Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) will be made a statutory body. The party has also promised a permanent commission on agriculture finance and crop insurance, regulated markets under the APMC Act, and freedom to farmers to sell agricultural produce at the farm-gate or at any other place of choice. In the context of farmers, the author would like to make only two following observations:

(i) The Swaminathan Commission on agricultural reforms was constituted by the Congress (UPA) government in 2004 and the Commission submitted five reports from 2004 to 2006 recommending umpteen reforms, of which the MSP for the crops was one important recommendation. During ten years of the Congress rule at Centre from 2004 to 2014, the government did not implement recommendations made by the Swaminathan Commission, including MSP, expressing resources constraints. This was Modi government which acted on the reports of the Commission and has implemented many of its recommendation including MSP on 23 identified crops as of now.

(ii) Many top leaders of the Congress are on record in their past speeches and public utterances favouring the market driven agricultural reforms for years. However, when Prime Minister Modi led NDA government promulgated three relevant Acts in September 2020 for implementation of various reforms in the agriculture sector, simultaneously retaining the existing system of MSP on crops and APMC markets for the ease of farmer, the same Congress and other like-minded opposition parties opposed reforms and actually instigated and supported ill-conceived agitation by a section of farmers in 2020-21 until the Acts were withdrawn by the government in 2021 not because reforms per se were wrong but for their political compulsions.


V – Workers

Although there is no path-breaking idea or promise for the common workers but the manifesto contains 14 promises for the workers too. Some of the more significant points include reforms in the industrial and labour laws, removal of gender discrimination and gender inequality at the workplace, principle of ‘same work same wages', increase in MGNREGA wages to Rs 400 per day with enhanced scope of work, expansion of PDS (public distribution system), launching of an urban employment programme, doubling the number of Anganwadi workers, second Asha worker in a population of over 2,500 people, creation of an additional fourteen lakh jobs, and so on. The author does not wish to make any qualitative remarks on these general promises.


VI – Defending the Constitution

At the outset, the author would say that the Constitution has been the most frequently abused word in media and public utterances by certain class of politicians and the political parties in the past, and more so during the last 10 years of the Prime Minister Modi led NDA rule. The paradox is that some of the most debatable and controversial amendments in the Constitution such as 42nd amendment of the Constitution during the emergency rule was made by the Congress governments during nearly six decades of governance directly by the Congress or Congress supported parties. Notwithstanding it, the party makes allegation that neither the Constitution nor any democratic institution is safe under the present BJP led NDA government. Accordingly, several drastic changes have been promised in the Nyay Patra under the sub-headings ‘Saving Democracy, Removing Fear, Restoring Freedom' (18), Reversing the Damage (2), Media (8), Judiciary (6), Art, Culture and Heritage (11) and Anti-corruption listing areas for investigation, provided the Congress government comes in power following the general elections.

The Congress says that India's democracy has been reduced to an empty shell with every institution, including Parliament, having lost its independence and becoming subservient to the current executive government. Therefore, the Congress promises freedom from fear, restoration of speech & expression, decriminalization of defamation, stop suspension of internet, review the Tele Communication Act, 2023 to remove unacceptable laws, ensure the choice of freedom of food, dress, love and marriage, and everything that interferes with personal freedom and the right to privacy. The author would only submit that such allegations have been constantly made nationally and aggressively publicized internationally too while the truth is the democracy and secularism was never so safe in the country as in the present dispensation. Such allegations reflect more of the frustration of the ambitious and influential individuals (politicians) and opposition parties. For instance, one can easily observe these days even a petty leader, journalist or individual openly criticizing, even abusing with death threat, Prime Minister (by name), or even President, yet they make allegation that the freedom of speech and expression has been suppressed. It has become a practice to abuse institutions if their decision or verdict is not favourable to such individuals and parties. Things like the choice of food, dress, love and marriage are raised basically to appease a particular community.

The congress has rejected the idea of the ‘one nation one election' floated during the current NDA stint to save precious time and money owing to frequent and separate elections to the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies in vogue under the present system. They have also questioned the electronic voting machine (EVM) and the transparency of the ballot paper, and promised to make desired reforms. According to the Congress, the most institutions in the country have now lost freedom and are subservient to the Modi government; hence the party promises to restore autonomy of the Election Commission of India, the Central Information Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Commissions for SC, ST, minorities and OBC, and many other constitutional bodies. The paradoxical part is that all this hullabaloo is raised while there is not even one concrete case against the central government of fiddling with the institutions while a number of cases could be cited from the past governments where certain constitutional authorities acted and institutions indeed were seen subservient to the earlier governments.

Many other promises indicate and vindicate the reactionary approach of the country's oldest party. It is true that enough freedom is available under the laws of the land for the law-makers to switch over their parties and allegiance. In recent years, the nation has observed a mass exodus from the Congress to other parties, including BJP; so now, the Congress has promised automatic disqualification if any elected MP or MLA changes their loyalty and allegiance to party. In the past, the political leaders enjoyed sort of unwritten immunity against law and instances of prosecution were very rare.  One could find dozens of dynastic political leaders and families who are billionaire holding disproportionate assets without any viable source of income. During the NDA regime, the enforcement and investigating agencies have been strengthened to act against the known offenders and corrupt people irrespective of their affiliations and influence. Consequently, many politicians are facing heat now and made answerable before the laws of the land. The Congress perceives this action as a conspiracy and vendetta ; occasionally some leaders have even resorted to open threat  to investigating agencies in future.  In Nyay Patra, the Congress party has promised to make appropriate changes to discipline such agencies so that the police, investigation and intelligence agencies will function strictly in accordance with law.  The party also favours the principle “bail is the rule, jail is the exception” in all such cases. The party has also promised to restore as the erstwhile Planning Commission replacing the ‘Niti Ayog'.

Under the category of “Reversing the Damage”, the manifesto says that the BJP/NDA have carried out tremendous damage by misusing the brute majority to make laws violating the letter and spirit of the Constitution of India as well as the fundamental principles of the law-making, namely necessity, consultation, reasonableness and proportionality during the last 10 years relating to workers, farmers, criminal justice, environment & forests and digital data protection. The Congress promises that all such laws will be reviewed and changed, Although they have not put it in the manifesto but they also frequently talk about the Article 370 and status of the Jammu & Kashmir and that they will reverse it again if voted in power. The author would prefer to refrain from making any comments on the distorted and reactionary vision of a party but a clarification is necessary that the BJP/NDA do not enjoy a brute majority in the current Parliament; they have simple or absolute majority in the Lok Sabha (Lower House) but fall well short of it in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House). Therefore, the majority of legislation made so far is with the assistance of some other political parties which independently apply their wisdom and support what is good for the nation and people of India.

In the context of anti-corruption, the Congress states that several measures taken by the BJP/NDA government during last 10 years were actually a cloak for corruption quoting some examples such as demonetization, the Rafale deal, Pegasus spyware, and the electoral bond scheme. then they say that many known offenders and scamesters were allowed to leave country. The Congress promises to carry out complete investigations of the Electoral Bonds Scam, the reckless sale of public assets, the PM CARES scam, repeated intelligence failures at the highest levels and corruption in major defense procurement like the Rafale deal. Giving any detailed description about the alleged corruption and scams is beyond the scope of this essay but it is a well-known fact that the BJP/NDA government has remained free from scams or corruption cases during the last ten years. When the Congress, some other opposition leaders and a section of media started a vicious campaign against the Government-to-Government Rafale deal for the much-needed fighter aircrafts by the Indian Air Force, the Supreme Court and the CAG of India had independently examined and investigated such allegations in its whole gamut, and gave a clean chit to the government and service concerned. It is a well-known fact that all political parties receive donation from various companies/individuals. Till a few years back, the Congress was the biggest beneficiary and the entire process of receiving money was fully opaque with indiscretion and underhand dealings. The introduction of the Electoral Bond Scheme by the NDA government has actually brought in transparency in the process despite ethical issues.

The Congress feels that a significant section of media have been robbed of, or surrendered, their freedom during the last ten years of Narendra Modi led NDA rule. So the Congress has made several promises with required legislation and executive action to ensure the freedom of press and internet. The Congress feels that an independent judiciary is necessary in view of the misgovernance, weaponization of the laws, misuse of investigating agencies and abuse of executive powers by the BJP/NDA government in last 10 years; hence. A Judicial Commission (NJC) shall be constituted for the selection and appointment of judges of the High Courts and the Supreme Court. Also, more women and persons from SC, ST, OBC and minorities will be appointed as judges in the High Courts and Supreme Court. Judicial history during the Congress regimes is itself an interesting subject of study but the current trend is if the verdict of the High Court and/or Supreme Court does not suit the party, the verdict itself (even integrity of judiciary!) becomes questionable to their wisdom. In the manifesto, the Congress has also promised to protect the rich diversity of India's art and culture in an atmosphere of freedom and creativity.


VII – Economy

The Congress claims to have ushered in an era of liberalization and steered the country (under Narsimha Rao Government) toward an open, free and competitive economy with regulatory oversight. Of course, it's a different side of the same coin that the top leadership of the Congress party had disowned the former Prime Minister Narsimha Rao for the alleged deviation from the Nehruvian economic model. This acrimony within the party grew to such an extent that, reportedly, the remains (dead body) of the former prime minister was denied even a glimpse to the party office and cremation in the national capital. Now alleging that the BJP/NDA rule led to slowing of economy with no or very less jobs, the Congress, claiming the credit of earlier liberalization and accrued benefits, says that it is the time for a reset of the economic policy. So the manifesto promises a “Nav Sankalp Economic Policy”, the cornerstone of which will be creation of jobs by becoming the world's biggest producing economy. The three goals of the Congress' new economic policy will be work, wealth and welfare of people.

Under works alone, the Congress has made 21 promises lamenting over the current state of economy under the BJP/NDA government miserably falling short of GDP growth target. According to the Congress, had their government continued in office, the economy would have doubled by now but, if elected, the Congress is committed to a rapid growth and generation of wealth by doubling the GDP in the next ten years.





The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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