WITH THE clear objective of once again identifying itself with the weaker and poorer sections of society that was once the party's vote bank, the Congress-led UPA government has taken a conscious decision to go back to the Congress's theme of 35 years ago, 'Garibi Hatao'.
All India Congress Committee general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi said: "We are happy that the UPA government is planning to revive the old spirit. No government policy can have any relevance till it brings about a qualitative difference in the lives of the weaker sections. This is obviously a step in that direction."
The cabinet's decision also aims at emphasizing the commitment contained in the coalition's common minimum programme (CMP), to bring in measures to effect a qualitative change in the life of the aam aadmi (common man). The government, with its new slogan, will simultaneously carry on its reforms agenda, while taking care to ensure that the benefits percolate down to the lowest strata of society and do not favour a small segment.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who had used Indira Gandhi's political idiom to send out a strong message to the masses during the party's Shimla Conclave in 2003, appears to have influenced the cabinet decision.
In its March 2005 cabinet note, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation — that oversees the implementation of the TPP — had asked whether TPP 1986 should be restructured as TPP 2006 or scrapped altogether. The Congress-led UPA has chosen the first option.
Dasmunsi maintained that the old TPP "scored sufficiently" but had to be restructured to bring within its ambit new policies and programmes.
In its new avatar, the programme will be more "focused" and enable "efficient monitoring". Its 1986 version, bequeathed by the Rajiv Gandhi government, had 119 items. TPP 2006 will have 64 items.
The changes harmonise the programme with the priorities set out in the UPA's National Common Minimum Programme. The UN Millennium Development Goal and the SAARC Social Charter have also been factored into the revised TPP, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee told HT.
He had headed the Group of Ministers that restructured the programme for the cabinet's approval. TPP 2006 includes food security, housing for all, provision of clean drinking water, education and health for all, women, child and youth welfare and e-governance. A four-tier monitoring mechanism will be put in place at the block, district, state and central levels for its effective implementation.