2019 Manifesto: Congress promises to make ‘defamation’ a civil offence, amend AFSPA, remove sedition

By NL Team

Published on :

The Indian National Congress party on April 2 released its manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The manifesto was released in the presence of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Priyanka Gandhi and other party leaders. Former finance minister P Chidambaram was the head of the manifesto committee.

Here are the highlights of the Congress manifesto which is divided into six sections: Kaam, Daam, Shaan, Sushashan, Swabhimaan, Samman.

Under the first section, the Congress party has stated that it will fill all four lakh Central government and institutional vacancies before March 2020. It has also promised to create an estimated 10 lakh seva mitra positions in every gram panchayat and urban local body. “As a condition for devolution of funds to the healthcare and education sectors and to Panchayats and Municipalities, Congress will request State Governments to fill all vacancies, estimated at 20 lakh, in the 2 sectors and in local bodies,” the manifesto states.

The 2019 manifesto also promises to create 1 crore jobs by launching a ‘Water Bodies Restoration Mission’ and ‘Wasteland Regeneration Mission’. Meanwhile, the party has also promised to “increase the share of India’s manufacturing sector from the current level of 16 per cent of GDP to 25 per cent within a period of 5 years”.

The Congress manifesto also addressed the Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY) announced by party president Rahul Gandhi earlier. It states: “To ensure that no Indian is left behind, Congress will provide a Minimum Income Support Programme…under which ₹72,000 a year will be transferred to the poorest 20 per cent families in India.”

On the national security front, the Congress manifesto promises to “reverse the trend of declining defence spending…to meet the requirements of the Armed Forces”. The party has also stated that it will “categorically address any remaining anomalies in one-rank one-pension for our Armed Forces”.

To strengthen institutions, Congress has promised amendments to the Anti-Defection Law. The manifesto states: “to provide for instant disqualification of a Member of Parliament or a Member of the State Legislature for proven disobedience to the party’s whip or for withdrawing allegiance to the party or for supporting another party”, the party promises to amend the Anti-Defection Law.

The party has also promised that all government schemes and programmes shall be subjected to social audit. For this, the Congress promises to enact a Social Accountability Act. The INC has also promised to “amend the Aadhaar Act, 2016, in order to restrict the use of Aadhaar to subsidies, benefits and services provided by the government as was originally intended under the law”.

Under the Review of Laws, Rules and Regulations section, the Congress party has promised to remove Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code and make defamation a civil offence. The party has also promised to remove sedition, which “has been misused and…has become redundant because of subsequent laws”.

Among others, the Congress party has also promised to amend the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 “in order to strike a balance between the powers of security forces and the human rights of citizens and to remove immunity for enforced disappearance, sexual violence and torture.”

As per the party, it held 121 public consultations and 53 sessions with farmers, teachers, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers and economists to prepare the manifesto.

The Lok Sabha elections will start from April 11.