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INDIA bloc fighting ideological election; PM candidate after winning polls: Rahul

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The Congress released its manifesto for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls which promises 50 pc cap on quotas, right to apprenticeship, making MSP legal, probe into Rafale deal, electoral bonds among others

NEW DELHI, April 5: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday said the INDIA bloc has decided that its prime ministerial face will be decided by the alliance constituents jointly after it wins the polls and exuded confidence that the NDA’s 2024 campaign will meet the same fate as that of ‘India Shining’ in 2004.
The former Congress chief said the Lok Sabha polls are between forces who are trying to “destroy” the Constitution and democracy in the country and those protecting them.
Speaking at the Congress manifesto launch programme, Gandhi said it is a much closer contest than what is propagated by the media, and expressed confidence of winning the polls.
Responding to a question after the release of the party manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls, he said, “This election is about those who want to destroy the Constitution and democracy in the country versus those who want to protect the Constitution and democracy.” “We do believe that it is very important once this fight is won that we look after the interests of the vast majority of our people, that India is not run for two or three large conglomerates but is run for the vast majority of the people, that we are not a nation of monopolies, we are a nation where there is fair competition among businesses,” he said.
Asked about who will be the prime ministerial face, Gandhi said, “INDIA bloc has decided that we are together fighting an ideological election, after winning the election, who will be the leader, the PM, the whole coalition will jointly decide.” To a question on the outcome of the polls, Gandhi said unlike many political commentators he cannot predict the future but expressed confidence that this is a “much closer” election than what is being propagated by the media.
“It is a close election and we are going to fight an excellent election and we are going to win the election,” Gandhi asserted.
He said there was a similar feeling being generated by the press when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister in 2004 when there was the India Shining campaign.
“So, we have a similar idea being propagated, India Shining, with two-three new dimensions, with full support by the monopolists of the country. But do remember what happened to the India Shining campaign and do remember who won that campaign,” Gandhi asserted.
The NDA had lost the polls and the UPA government was sworn in.
Gandhi said it is important to understand that this is a fundamentally different election as democracy and Constitution have not been as much at risk as it is today.
In response to another question, he said one must understand that what is happening in India’s political structure.
“We have to understand what is the foundation of the strategy prepared by the RSS and the BJP and particularly Narendra Modi. Like Narendra Modi has given a monopoly to (Billionaire Gautam) Adani in ports, infrastructure and defence, he has also built a monopoly of political finance by using the Enforcement Directorate, CBI and Income Tax department,” he said.
“If you look at the electoral bond scheme, it is clear that Narendra Modi and the BJP have raised political funding through extortion, threats, pressure. (Congress president Mallikarjun) Kharge ji said all those who are corrupt are going to the BJP, there is a reason for that because Narendra Modi wants that political finance is in their hands,” Gandhi said.
The Congress’s bank accounts were frozen and it was left with its original path which was to go to the people, he said.
Congress manifesto prepared by people of India: Rahul
The party’s manifesto is not prepared by the Congress but by the people of India and “we have just written it down”, he said, adding that the document is just the “voice of India”.
The manifesto, titled ‘Nyay Patra’, was released at the AICC headquarters in the presence of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and former party chief Sonia Gandhi. It focused on five ‘pillars of justice’ and 25 guarantees under them.
Right to apprenticeship, a legal guarantee for MSP, passing a constitutional amendment to raise the 50 per cent cap on reservations for SCs, STs and OBCs, a nation-wide caste census and scrapping of Agnipath scheme are among the promises made by the Congress in its Lok Sabha polls manifesto released on Friday.
In the 45-page document titled ‘Nyay Patra’, featuring pictures of Kharge and Rahul and Bharat Jodo Yatras, the opposition party said it would implement 10 per cent quota in jobs, educational institutions for economically weaker sections (EWS) for all castes, communities without discrimination if it comes to power.
The party also promised full statehood to Jammu and Kashmir, besides giving special status to Andhra Pradesh, full statehood to Puducherry, and to amend the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991, to declare that Lt Governor shall act on the aid and advice of Council of Ministers of NCT, Delhi.
It also promised to fill nearly 30 lakh vacancies in sanctioned posts at various levels in the central government and said the Rajasthan model of cashless insurance of up to Rs 25 lakh will be adopted for ensuring universal healthcare across the country.
The Congress will pass a constitutional amendment to raise the 50 per cent cap on reservations for SC, ST and OBC if it comes to power in the general elections beginning April 19, the party promised.
The party also said it will conduct a nationwide socio-economic and caste census ensuring equitable distribution among all sections as per their population. It said it will review all laws that interfere with the right to privacy and make suitable amendments to various laws to uphold the right to privacy.
Rejecting the ‘one nation, one election’ idea, the Congress promised that elections to the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies be held as and when they are due in accordance with the Constitution and the traditions of a parliamentary democracy.
It also promised to restore the voters’ trust in the election process by amending election laws and ensure that VVPAT slips are tallied with EVMs.
The Congress said it will review the new education policy brought by NDA.
It also promised to enact a law on bail that will incorporate the principle that ‘bail is the rule, jail is the exception’ in all criminal laws. It further promised to introduce comprehensive prison reforms.
It said it guarantees a new ‘right to apprenticeship act’ to provide one-year apprenticeship to every diploma holder or graduate below age of 25, under which apprentices will get Rs one lakh a year.
It also promised to provide financial assistance of Rs one lakh cash transfer to a woman of poor households under the Mahalakshmi scheme.
It said it will launch an urban employment programme guaranteeing work for urban poor in reconstruction, renewal of urban infrastructure.
The party said in the document that it would abolish the Agnipath programme and direct the armed forces to resume normal recruitment to achieve full sanctioned strength. (PTI)

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