After months of poverty talk, the Congress party did a course correction in its 2014 Lok Sabha manifesto released on Wednesday. A balance or a truce of sorts has been struck between Rahul Gandhi’s much-ballyhooed ‘rights regime’ and Manmohan Singh’s two-decade-old high growth spin-doctoring.
It’s a trade off, no doubt.
If there was a clarion call for six new rights, including for health, homestead and pension, there was also that promise of pumping in $1 trillion in infrastructure in the next decade, a big push for higher education and, creation of an environment that would generate more than 8 per cent GDP growth in the next three years.
The development policy orientation though remains anchored to issues such as, “lifting 800 million people into the middle class” and a promise of extending “reservation to all economically backward sections irrespective of caste”, without chipping away the constitutional guarantee to SC/STs. For the latter, across-the-board opinion building on ‘affirmative action in the private sector’ has been promised yet again. But reams have also been devoted to underscore that the Congress is not turning its face away from Manmohanomics or the economic reform agenda, now ironically being championed by prime rival, BJP’s Narendra Modi.
So there’s much on boosting the manufacturing and the export sectors for job creation for the youth; with fiscal consolidation, price stability and growth too getting highlighted. Goods and Service Tax and Direct Tax Code Bill are promised within one year of the next Parliament.