The Congress also promised to waive off farmers’ agriculture debts and women’s loans from micro-finance institutes, distribute kerosene and sugar through PDS, offer lunch at Rs 10 and price a quintal of rice at Rs 2,500.
“Though Congress symbol is there in the document, actually it is a people’s manifesto. It contains the aspirations of the people of Assam,” Gandhi said.
In its manifesto, the Congress also “guaranteed” five lakh jobs in the public sector, 200 units of free electricity per month for all and a hike in the minimum wages of tea garden workers to Rs 365.
यह मेनिफेस्टो 5 गारंटी देता है मगर ये मेनिफेस्टो यह भी गारंटी देता है कि जो असम का इतिहास है, असम की भाषा और संस्कृति है, उसकी हम रक्षा करेंग: श्री @RahulGandhi #AxomCongressorJanManifesto pic.twitter.com/WaUZobuo0R
— Congress (@INCIndia) March 20, 2021
Gandhi said Congress guarantees to defend the “idea of Assam” that contains culture, language, tradition, history and the way of thinking.
“This is our commitment. You are aware that BJP and RSS are attacking the diverse culture of India and Assam. We will defend that,” he told reporters.
The opposition party promised to waive off debt for women, who have taken loans from micro-finance banks.
“Agricultural debt will be waived off for farmers, the country’s food providers,” the manifesto said.
The party, if voted to power, will restart the distribution of kerosene and sugar through the public distribution system at “minimum price”, the manifesto said.
The document also mentioned providing lunch at Rs 10 through ‘Aamar Pakghar’ (Our Kitchen) for the organised as well as the unorganised sector workers.
“Congress will price a quintal of rice at Rs 2,500 and necessary steps will be taken to implement it,” it added.
When asked how the financial implications will be handled while fulfilling the promises as Assam is already debt-ridden, Gandhi said the Congress team has done “all the math” and these are “guarantees” that will be implemented at any cost.
“There was total mismanagement by the BJP in Assam during the last five years. We are running governments in states such as Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Punjab, and we have no problem in running these governments and looking after the poor people,” he said.
If one has the focus on only doing things for two- three “close friends”, then it would be a “completely different” type of government than the one having a focus on the common man, Gandhi asserted.
“This is a common man’s manifesto. We are not going to give the airport to Narendra Modi’s friend. We are not going to give thousands of crores to the rich man. That is not going to happen. That is how we will get the money (for the promises),” he said.
The Congress leader also said that the BJP government at the Centre has “essentially destroyed” India by damaging the country’s biggest strength — the economy, which was created slowly and painstakingly by the UPA.
“During UPA tenure, we had jobs and the growth was 9 per cent. During NDA’s time, the economic backbone of the country has been destroyed. Demonetisation and GST have destroyed India’s ability to generate jobs,” he said.
Gandhi further said the ruling BJP has no choice but to privatise all the prime assets and resources of Assam and the country.
“We are completely against this. There are things that can be privatised, but strategic assets must not be privatised. Strategic assets defend and protect the country. The main problem here is a problem created by the BJP. Assam is in debt because the BJP has destroyed the Indian economic system,” he claimed.
MSME, agriculture and many other sectors are not functioning, leading to a complete halt in job generation, Gandhi said.
“They (BJP) have no choice but to monetise what is left. Believe me, even after monetising what is left, the Indian economy will not start. Because, they basically fundamentally don’t know how to run this country,” he said.
The country cannot be run by dividing people and only on the back of two-three people, but it can be run with the poor people and the Congress knows it very well, Gandhi asserted.
He also said that the Congress will have a “zero tolerance” policy towards any form of corruption in the government.
When asked about the chief ministerial candidate of the Congress-led ‘Grand Alliance’, Gandhi said it will be decided after the results of the Assembly polls are out.