By Deepak Kumar Rath
Like a corporate booklet with colourful displays and ideas, the Congress manifesto does not give any indication as to how the reforms would be brought about. What is more, the social and economic reforms suggested by the manifesto do not have anything new to offer to what the NDA government is already carrying out.
The Congress manifesto has listed six basics for governance, namely, Samajik sadbhavana, Yuva rozagar, Gramin vikas, Arthik navotthan, Mahila sashaktikaran, Saman avsar.
For Yuva rozagar, the Congress has promised to accelerate the growth of production and increase employment opportunities ?by around one crore a year and ensure that each family has at least one job.? But the party does not clarify as to how it would generate such a large number of employment opportunities in any different a manner that the NDA government has not done so far. The Congress focuses on ?employment generation?, and this is something which Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has consistently been emphasising upon since his government came to power and which is also reflected in the various programmes and projects undertaken by the NDA government.
The Congress party'sdouble talk is evident in the manifesto when on the one hand, it talks of bringing India back on the path of social harmony, on the other, it expresses its commitment through the manifesto to a policy of reservation ?for socially and educationally backward sections among the Muslims and other minorities on a national scale?. This clearly exposes the pseudo-secular face of the National Congress. It advocates reservations for Dalits and tribals in the private sector, whereas the NDA government has created a separate ministry with special allocation for funds in the budget, for development of the tribal community and preservation of its rich cultural heritage.
The Congress manifesto underlines the Party'sfaith in economic reforms, which it plans to ?broaden and deeper? to fulfill ?social objectives? and ensure ?local-level economic and social transformation that directly benefits the poor in rural and urban India.? But again, the Congress has not made it clear as to how its economic policies and economic reforms are different to that of the NDA government. Even the Congress stand on economic liberalisation appears confusing.
On the issue of dialogue with Pakistan the Congress has resorted to stereotype advocacy of formal and informal talks on the basis of Shimla Agreement of 1972. It seems that the Congress is ignoring the fact that we have the best of relations with Pakistan now than we have ever had since the Partition.
The Congress that ruled the country for 45 years now advocates change and progress provided the Congress is brought to power. Very conveniently the Congress has decided to ignore the BJP'scontribution in providing the ?feel good factor? and for making ?India shining? within a period of six years. Devoid of any real issue to ride on, the Congress is talking through its hat with the prime aim of queering the BJP'spitch. So much so, that for the milestones achieved during the BJP-led NDA government, the Congress wants to take credit by saying that what all has been achieved by BJP has been possible only because of the Congress rule in the past 45 years.
Aware of the fact that minorities and backward classes are disillusioned with the Congress, it has not tried to woo them and has drafted its main slogan-Congress ka haath, aam adami ke sath. It is evident that the Congress is targeting essentially the youth, the farmers and the workers. It is worth mentioning here that the party's?vote bank politics? lie exposed and the BJP has an edge over it as the latter has the support of minorities and the backward classes in large numbers.
On the Ayodhya issue the Congress has no specific solutions to offer. While the BJP has made it clear that after the elections the Ayodhya tangle will be solved though a court verdict or through a negotiated settlement between the two concerned communities, the Congress is of the opinion that ?all parties must wait and abide by the verdict of the Court. If negotiations are to be held, they must be between the parties to the dispute.?