With only a week left for the 10 May Assembly polls in Karnataka, the Congress, on Tuesday, 2 May, released its election manifesto, promising to repeal all “unjust laws and anti-people laws” passed by the BJP government in Karnataka within one year of coming to power in the state.
The Congress is committed to take firm and decisive action against individuals and organisations such as the Bajrang Dal for “spreading hatred” between communities on the grounds of caste and religion, the party said in its election manifesto.
The manifesto, titled ‘Sarva Janangada Shanthiya Thota’ (Peaceful garden of all communities), was released by Congress President M Mallikarjun Kharge in the presence of the state unit chief DK Shivakumar and CLP leader Siddaramaiah, among others.
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‘Ban on such organisations’
“The Congress is committed to take firm and decisive action against individuals and organisations spreading hatred amongst communities on grounds of caste and religion,” the manifesto said.
“We believe that law and Constitution are sacrosanct and cannot be violated by individuals and organisations like Bajrang Dal, PFI or others promoting enmity or hatred, whether among majority or minority communities. We will take decisive action as per law,” Congress said.
The action will include a “ban” against such organisations, the party said.
Main schemes: And a 6th guarantee
The Opposition party reiterated its five guarantees — Gruha Jyothi, Gruha Lakshmi, Anna Bhagya, Yuva Nidhi and Shakti — in its manifesto.
The Shakti scheme will provide free travel to all women throughout the state in regular KSRTC/ BMTC buses; the Gruha Jyothi promises 200 units of free power per month, while Anna Bhagya offers 10 kg of foodgrain to below poverty line, or BPL, families each month.
The Yuva Nidhi scheme will give ₹3,000 a month to unemployed graduates and ₹1,500 to unemployed diploma holders, and under the Gruha Lakshmi scheme, each woman head of the family will receive ₹2,000 per month.
Kharge said, “I am giving the sixth guarantee that these guarantees will surely be implemented in the first Cabinet meeting on the first day of the government formation.”
The party also promised to enact a Karnataka Whistleblowers Protection Act if voted to power.
The Congress said it will demand Karnataka’s rightful share from the Centre in total taxes collected and fight against the efforts to “dilute the Constitutional rights in the federal system”.
The party said it will reject the National Education Policy and form a State Education Policy.
The manifesto also promised a Ksheeradhare scheme under which milk subsidy to dairy farmers would be increased from ₹5 to ₹7 per litre.
For farmers, the manifesto promised to increase the amount of interest-free loans from ₹3 lakh to ₹10 lakh.
The Congress manifesto has also promised to increase the total reservation ceiling to 75 percent to give adequate quota to deserving communities.
We make these commitments to the people of Karnataka with a steadfast determination to fulfill them, and to lead the state into a new era of unparalleled progress and prosperity.
— Congress (@INCIndia) May 2, 2023
‘People coming to power’
Shivakumar said, “If we come to power, it will be like people coming to power. This is how we will govern the state. Give us your support and we will live up to our promises.”
The main promises made by the Congress in its election manifesto were announced earlier by the leaders during their poll campaigning.
Yuva Nidhi was announced by Rahul Gandhi on 20 February during a public meeting in Belagavi. “We understand your (the youths’) problem and the BJP is not giving you jobs,” Rahul Gandhi had said.
“The Congress government in the state will provide jobs to 10 lakh youths in five years, and will assure that 2.5 lakh government vacancies will be filled up,” he added.
BJP ire over equating Bajrang Dal, PFI
The manifesto put the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-affiliate outfit Bajrang Dal in the same box as now banned Islamic outfit Popular Front of India (PFI) and promised to take legal measures to ban it for “spreading hate”.
The promise has led to immediate outrage from the BJP, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which has deemed the move “anti-Hindu”.
Narendra Modi said the Congress had earlier locked up Lord Rama and now it wants to lock up those who chant Jai Bajrang Bali’ (Hail Hanuman).
Addressing an election rally in the Vijayanagara district, Modi said, “I have come to the land of Hanuman. I am fortunate that I got the opportunity to pay my obeisance to the land of Hanuman but see the misfortune that when I have come to pay my respect to Hanuman’s land, at the same time, Congress in its manifesto has decided to lock up Lord Hanuman.”
‘Attempt to save PFI’
Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra alleged that the Congress promise in its Karnataka poll manifesto to ban the Bajrang Dal is an attempt to “save” the PFI.
“Today, Congress released its manifesto, a bundle of lies, in view of Karnataka polls… This is audacious and the height of appeasement politics. This is the Congress attempt to save PFI by insulting Lord Hanuman,” Patra told reporters.
He said the Congress has made such a promise in the “holy land” of Karnataka.
“Hanuman ji Karnataka ke gauravshali dev hain, Karnataka ki bhoomi Hanuman ji ki bhoomi hai. Congress ne hamare devta ka apman kiya hai (Lord Hanuman is the pride of Karnataka. Karnataka is the land of Lord Hanuman and Congress has insulted our lord,” Patra said.
The Vishva Hindu Parishad slammed the Congress for promising to ban its youth wing, the Bajrang Dal, in Karnataka if voted to power in the state, saying by doing so, the party has defamed a “nationalist” organisation.
The Congress manifesto also promised to consider the extention of the Old Pension scheme — a poll plank that had put the BJP on the backfoot in Himachal Pradesh.
(With PTI inputs)