Congress lays out roadmap for 2019 Lok Sabha polls
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Congress lays out roadmap for 2019 Lok Sabha polls

The party stuck to its line of adopting a “pragmatic approach” in forging alliances with like-minded parties and evolving a common workable programme to defeat the saffron fold in 2019.

india Updated: Mar 18, 2018 08:45 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Congress,2019 Lok Sabha polls,LS elections
Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi and president Rahul Gandhi talk as former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh looks on, during the 84th Plenary Session of the Indian National Congress at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi on Saturday. (PTI Photo)

Appearing to be unnerved by the Bharatiya Janata Party‘s juggernaut and a series of electoral setbacks since 2014, the Congress on Saturday rolled out its roadmap for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The grand-old party not only stuck to its line of adopting a “pragmatic approach” in forging alliances with ‘like-minded’ parties and evolving a common workable programme to defeat the saffron fold in 2019 but also promised sops to the farmers and youngsters if voted to power.

However, unlike the Shimla declaration of 2003 when it insisted on leading the coalition, the Congress this time remained silent on the leadership issue. Since receiving its worst-ever electoral drubbing in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress has suffered defeats in successive assembly elections and is now in power in just Karnataka, Punjab, Mizoram and Puducherry.

Retaining Karnataka, which found resonance in the speeches of former party chief Sonia Gandhi and others, is crucial for the party to prepare for the 2019 general elections polls with a resurgent spirit.

On the opening day of the 84th plenary session, two resolutions were adopted by a gathering of Congress leaders and workers from across the country.

In the political resolution, the Congress urged the Election Commission (EC) to revert to ballot papers instead of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), which have come under scrutiny following tampering allegations.

It also said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push for simultaneous polls was “misplaced, impractical and incompatible with the Constitution” and would have “serious implications”.

Being held after a gap of seven years, the theme of the 84th Congress’ plenary session is “ Change is Now” (Waqt Hai Badlav Ka)”.

The resolution on agriculture, employment and poverty alleviation, moved by Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, promised a loan-waiver scheme for small and marginal farmers similar to that announced by the UPA government in 2009.

The main Opposition party hit out at the Modi government for its “flawed” and “anti-farmer” policies that have caused an “agrarian crisis” in the country.

The Congress also said it would create a national poverty alleviation fund and impose a 5% cess on incomes of the top 1% richest Indians.

Battling defection with the BJP poaching many of its leaders, the Congress demanded that defectors should be debarred from contesting elections for six years in order to check the “brazen misuse of money power to create political instability”.

In apparent references to the arrest of former finance minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti hidambaram in an alleged money laundering case and the CBI charge-sheet against former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda in an alleged land scam, the party condemned the BJP government for “brazen abuse of power and misuse of central agencies for targeted political vendetta to harass, humiliate and persecute” its political opponents.

The Congress also attacked the BJP-RSS ideology, alleging that it was creating an environment of “distrust, fear and intimidation” in pursuit of their “insidious and divisive agenda”.

It said the judicial system needed urgent reforms for effective and timely dispensation of justice with special attention towards reducing pending cases and providing affordable justice.

The Congress also pledged its support to the demand for special category status to Andhra Pradesh, an issue that has prompted the Telugu Desam Party to quit the NDA and move a no-confidence motion against the Modi government. The YSR Congress Party has separately moved a similar motion.

“A resurgent Congress alone shall win back the idea of India as envisioned by our nation’s founding fathers,” read the political resolution moved by senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge.

First Published: Mar 17, 2018 23:35 IST