In Congress 2019 election manifesto, special focus on two issues
The Congress’ message for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections will sharply focus on jobs and farmers, party leaders familiar with the matter said on Saturday, yet again highlighting the ongoing agrarian crisis in many parts of the country and the jobs scenario.
The two issues came in for special attention at the first meeting of the party’s manifesto committee held earlier this month, when around 18 to 19 senior Congress leaders gathered to thrash out the basic contours of the party’s manifesto for 2019.
According to two leaders present at the meeting, issues such as corruption (especially the Rafale deal) and mismanagement of the economy will also be accorded high priority .
Both jobs and the agrarian crisis are contentious issues, with the government defending its record on both. It recently increased the price at which it buys 14 crops to ensure farmers earned a 50% return on their investment, and it claims that in the absence of jobs data, the fact that loans to small enterprises and the number of provident fund accounts have increased, indicate that jobs are being created.
“The Congress will approach this election in a more structured way with people’s issues right on the top,” said a senior strategist of the party, pointing out that this is the first time party president Rahul Gandhi has formed a core committee for the polls.
At the meeting, different leaders were also asked to prepare notes on specific sectors. The notes will provide an outline on how the Congress will approach the sector and its related issues in the run up to elections.
“Former Union minister Salman Khurshid has been asked to prepare a note on minorities and Shashi Tharoor will give a note on young professionals. Former finance minister P Chidambaram will work on economic issues while Anand Sharma will handle the trade and commerce sector,” said a leader.
The party will soon upload a dedicated website for its 2019 campaign to seek ideas from the people. “It will be our answer to Prime Minister’s Mann ki Baat where he talks about his ideas. Our forum will be to listen to the people’s mann ki baat,” said another Congress leader.
On Saturday, interacting with professors and teachers at an event in the capital, party president Rahul Gandhi hinted that the Congress would listen to different stakeholders and incorporate their views in the
“Congress party is commencing its work in drafting a manifesto. I want the teachers to form a delegation and come to us with your demands,” Gandhi told the gathering of professors.
Rahul Gandhi’s key aide K Raju is coordinating with leaders from different regions and acting as a bridge between the grass-roots level workers and the officers of the party.
Even as work on the manifesto and strategy continue, the Congress is keen to tap young volunteers — with some connections with the Congress — in large numbers for back-end support.
“For logistics support, we may tie up with some organisations that will help us campaign in other parts of the country, especially in rural India,” said a third leader.
As the party embarks upon a mammoth exercise to take on the BJP, party leaders observe that the process of coming up with a manifesto and strategy is more focused and better co-ordinated than in previous years.
“Last time, our preparations were a disaster. There were too many bosses, one person didn’t know what another was doing and ego clashes hampered effective coordination,” said a senior functionary of the party who asked not to be named.
“While manifesto is an important part of any political party in an election, the overall campaign, the direct outreach to the people and the organisational strength will finally matter in this election. Every opposition party also must understand that the BJP is not only a very strong party it also has possibly the best campaign mechanism,” said Afzal Amanullah, former parliamentary affairs secretary.