The concern over the impact of the economic meltdown on various sections of the population will be reflected in the manifestos of the two main national parties — the Congress and the BJP — as they go to the people to seek votes. Both parties intend to focus on the poor, farmers and youngsters.
The Congress will pitch as its USP the promise to expand the existing national rural employment guarantee act (NREGA) to include the urban poor. Party leaders have often claimed that the NREGA has provided a shield and a safety net to the rural poor against the meltdown effect by promising them 100 days of employment annually.
“We now plan to bring this law to the urban areas,” said a leader who did not want to be named. More than five lakh jobs are estimated to have been lost between October 2008 and January 2009.
The BJP too is aware of the toll the economic meltdown has taken.