The Congress Party’s Election Manifesto is built around blatant lies and false promises to get back to power by fooling the gullible masses and appeasing minority communities
Congress President Rahul Gandhi released his party’s Election Manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections on April 2. It is sad to see the grand old party’s manifesto based on blatant lies and false promises. His vision document pompously titled, “Congress Will Deliver’ is poor on facts such as farm prices at a ‘10-year low’, exports and investment at a ‘historic low’ etc., which are simply exposing Rahul Gandhi’s ignorance on economic matters. It is a well-known fact that the Modi Government increased Minimum Support Price (MSP) for agricultural products. Similarly, anyone can verify the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) data over a decade and details relating to capital expenditure & capital formation can also be compared between UPA and NDA regimes. These blatant lies raise a question over Rahul’s political ambition—win the Election, by hook or by crook. Preferably by crook.
Congress party leaders releasing the manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha Polls in New Delhi
The manifesto says that the Congress launched liberalisation & economic reforms. They have also promised to end the ‘tax terrorism’. Mr Gandhi should be reminded that it was UPA Government that changed tax legislations retrospectively to overrule Supreme Court judgements which caused national embarrassment. Few of the matters went to arbitration and uncertainty on tax matters jeopardised the overall economic environment of the country. Congress could not muster the courage to implement GST due to political considerations and now they are claiming to replace this with their version. A similar promise is being made to implement Direct Tax Code but they failed to give a blueprint of what they are expecting to achieve.
Party manifesto is taking credit for the victory in 1965 and 1971 wars but they should remember that we lost the 1962 war with China due to Jawaharlal Nehru myopic policies. Wasn’t it Nehru who gifted the UNSC seat to China on a platter, which was offered to India at that time? Congress is blaming Modi for taking credit for successive surgical strikes. In fact, it was our defence forces that fought the war and won it for us. If Modi cannot take the credit for the success of surgical strikes on terrorism, then the Congress, too, cannot take the credit for winning the 1965 & 1971 wars.
In an effort to ‘up the ante’ on Modi Government, Rahul announced what he pompously called the NYAY—Nyuntam Aay Yojana, in which he said he would “direct transfer” Rs 72,000 per annum to 50 million poor families in the country. Now, this announcement has been included in the manifesto also, but they have not said how they are going to implement this scheme, nor how would it be funded. Given the current precarious fiscal scenario, it would be impossible for any party to implement any such extravagant scheme unless budgetary allocation for schemes like SC/ST welfare, Ayushman Bharat, MNREGA etc. is compromised. If Rahul has other plans like curtailing the expenditure on education to fund his false poll promises, then he must tell the people that he wants them to remain ‘uneducated’ so that they can vote him to power every five years. It is clear that if he wishes to implement such an ambitious but ill-thought out plan without closing some other welfare schemes, then either he will have to increase the tax burden on the people or he has to print more money, which means India will go the way ‘Venezuela’has gone today. Rahul’s economic advisors like PC Chidambaram should explain to the 50 million poor people how “Congress will deliver” on their empty promises. If they plan to increase tax, then they should explain that to the businessmen and middle-class whom he is targeting for tax hike, if Congress is voted to power. If Congress has plans to borrow money to fund their ‘bluff schemes’ then the economic experts of this grand old party should explain how they will bridge the budgetary deficit if they go for reckless borrowing. They should also explain the impact such a plan would have on the economy so that the people of this country will make an informed decision if they want to vote them to power.
Improving infrastructure, rural development and a strong MSME sector are a prerequisite for the growth of the Bharatiya economy. Congress has no vision on these vital sectors and promises like increasing the length of national highways, electricity in the rural area, connecting villages under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana etc. have no relevance because NDA has already performed better than the expectations on all these issues. Rahul Gandhi has promised to increase the government expenditure in the infrastructure sector but how?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to be leading in the battle for the heart and minds of the people but Rahul is pushing hard to make headlines. After promising to direct transfer Rs 72,000 per annum to five crore poor, Rahul Gandhi has gone a step ahead and said he would scrap Modi’s Niti Aayog and replace it with the erstwhile Planning Commission.
Modi is known to tread untrodden paths when it comes to institutions or policy framework. But the Congress Party is known to have a reputation of destroying the institutions and the ‘first family’, to borrow the words of PC Chaco, has always ruled through remote control when it was in power. A parallel institution named National Advisory Council (NAC) was created under the chairmanship of Sonia Gandhi. The NAC bypassed all the constitutional provisions and it was more powerful than Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) during Manmohan Singh’s regime. Given the history of Congress, nobody should be surprised when party president said that he would scrap a well-functioning institution just because Niti Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar questioned the Rahul Gandhi’s NYAY to the poor. Those who vouch for free speech and believe in the culture of debate and discussion would be surprised at the reaction of Rahul Gandhi.
If we look into the recent history, then we will find that such kind of behaviour is not new for Mr Gandhi. The family believes that they are above the law and that this country should be run as per their whims and fancies. In September 2013, Rahul Gandhi tore the ordinance passed by the union cabinet into pieces. As a result, the bill was not taken up for discussion. This shows the impetuous nature of Rahul Gandhi who clear believes that he can even overrule the decision of the Prime Minister and his cabinet.
There are allegations that Niti Aayog has taken some decisions to favour the private players and giving ONGC oilfields to private players is quoted in support of this allegation. Here the basic thing which the Opposition is not trying to highlight that that the purpose of giving the oilfields to private players was to enhance the oil recovery and reduce the dependence on import. There must not be any monopoly over the natural resources of the country and we should use it in a manner best suited to us. If we go to the specifics, then it was Manmohan Singh Government which went ahead with disinvestment of ONGC.
Congress president should also be reminded about what they did to PSUs. Government-owned telecom carrier BSNL which is now struggling to pay salaries was profitable till FY 2008-09. Same is the story of our national carrier Air India which got sick after the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines. There are allegations of favouritism also which hit the operations of Air India and pushed it into the red.
The real problem is not with institutions or how these institutions are working. The real problem lies in the fact that Congress knows Modi can’t be defeated on issues like corruption, development, national security, diplomacy etc. and therefore the entire Opposition is trying to set the narrative where a shadow of doubt can be created in the mind of voters. When economists having allegiance with UPA couldn’t digest the fact that GDP growth numbers in Modi tenure are better than the UPA, then they started questioning the numbers itself. All these economists know very well that the base year revision is a known practice and it happens everywhere but the objective was to create a suspicion so that their masters can leverage it. However, despite all the efforts of the entire Opposition the truth is Modi is man in today’s Indian politics.
The manifesto talks about passing a Law on Asylum consistent with international treaties and conventions. Would Congress care to explain what they are going to do with Rohingya and Bangladeshi infiltrators? As it also promises to ‘omit Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code with regard to Sedition, an amendment to Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, (AFSPA), 1958, deployment of armed forces in J&K the Congress needs to explain to the nation.
National integrity has been targeted time and again by Congress by openly encouraging divisive politics, primarily through ‘tukde tukde’ gang that seeks to undermine the integrity of the nation. The party is still in ‘no mood’ to learn any lessons and they are continuing their appeasement of the minorities, which is evident in their manifesto. Promises like punishing for hate crimes and assurance about Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia is nothing less than minority appeasement. When we have enough laws to tackle incidences like mob lynching, then what is the need to mention it in an election manifesto? What Congress is going to do on incidences where a Hindu is lynched by a Muslim mob? If every citizen of the country is equal in front of the Constitution, then why do you need any specific laws for a particular community?
We expected some honesty from Congress. Elections are vital to a healthy democracy but a clear vision based on truth reinforces that belief in the democracy. False promises and lies don’t.
(The writer is a Chartered Accountant and Anti-Money Laundering Specialist)