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The PM and CMs will come under the purview of the Lok Pal

The Congress's overall agenda

Broadly, the Congress's agenda is three-fold: economic, political and social.

The economic agenda is sharp.

It is to get the wheels of the economy moving once again as they did between 1980-89 and during 1991-96 and to restore confidence among farmers, workers, domestic entrepreneurs and industrialists and foreign investors.

It is to increase real investment in agriculture, in rural infrastructure particularly in the backward regions and to revamp the agricultural education, research, extension and credit systems so that farm prosperity spreads faster.

It is to increase both the level and productivity of investment, both domestic and foreign, public and private, in infrastructure like power, roads, ports, railways, coal, oil and gas, mining and telecommunications.

It is to revive the buoyancy in the capital market so that millions of Indians have new and profitable avenues for investing their savings.

Employment-intensive economic activities will get special and immediate policy attention and investment focus. These include exports, agriculture and agro-processing, livestock and animal husbandry, information technology, housing and construction, afforestation, village and small industry, textiles and tourism.

Soon after assuming office, the Congress government will present its budget and unveil its short-term blueprint with special focus on accelerating employment generation.

Shortly after its assumption of office, the Congress government will finalise and present to the nation the Ninth Five Year Plan which will contain the detailed plan of action, particularly in regard to employment.

The Congress will continue to fight for India's interests in world forums like the WTO. At the same time, it will honour all international commitments in a responsible manner.

The political agenda is pointed.

The Congress will restore governance and once again impart a sense of coherence and national purpose to government's functioning.

In its simplest form, the business of government is to govern. The Congress will do so effectively in a determined, goal-oriented manner so as to trigger a process of institutional renewal.

The Congress will strengthen local bodies. Over a three year period, all rural development funds, currently at around Rs 8000 crore per year, will be transferred directly to zilla parishads and other panchayat institutions. Nagarpalikas also will be provided with adequate funds and the municipal bond market will be developed as a way of raising resources.

The Congress will set up a Lok Pal and bring all political offices, including the prime minister and chief ministers, under its jurisdiction.

All controls that breed corruption will be weeded out. All organisations pursuing anti-corruption cases like the CBI will be given functional autonomy and their operations made more transparent and time-bound.

The Congress will overhaul the law and order machinery to make it more effective, yet humane; more powerful, yet more sensitive. A determined effort will be made to deal with organised crime and different criminal nexus.

All elected representatives belonging to the Congress will declare their assets on the day they enter office. They will make a similar declaration when they vacate their offices.

As its commitment to giving greater political power to women, the Congress introduced reservations for women in local bodies so that one-third of all representatives in panchayats and nagarpalikas are women. It is time to extend this further. The Congress will initiate moves to amend the Constitution so that one-third of all seats in the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha and in Vidhan Sabhas are reserved for women.

The Congress amended the Constitution to strengthen panchayats and nagarpalikas. It will amend the Constitution to revive, democratise and professionalise co-operatives.

The social agenda is purposive.

The reform of India's education system at all levels -- schools, colleges, universities -- is the single biggest challenge before us that the Congress will take up in right earnest. Rajiv Gandhi had launched such a reform over ten years ago. It is time for yet another monumental effort.

The Congress will amend the Constitution to make free elementary education upto 14 years of age a fundamental right.

The Congress believes in compulsory primary education. But the compulsion has not only to be on parents but also on Government itself to provide all essential facilities for the universalisation of elementary education. Resources for this must and will be found. Universities must be depoliticised and run completely on professional lines.

The mid-day meal scheme and a new Education Guarantee Scheme run by panchayats will be the flagship programmes for spreading primary education in the country.

Tuition fees and maintenance allowance to every scheduled caste and scheduled tribe student admitted to any university will be guaranteed for a maximum period of six years.

In a population of 95 crore, just about 1.5 crore Indians have pension cover and 20 lakh Indians have health insurance. The Congress will completely restructure the health insurance and pension businesses so that more and more Indians benefit.

India's most serious public health challenge arises out of unhygienic water and poor sanitation practices and facilities. Various schemes have been started but with limited impact, particularly in regard to sanitation. A time-bound programme will be launched to provide potable water and effective sewerage. A national movement will also be launched by the Congress party to promote community hygiene.

The Congress sees women not just as beneficiaries of programmes but as critical agents in achieving development objectives. It will continue to strive for the full legal, economic and political empowerment of women. Gender biases in education and employment will be removed. Specific schemes to drastically reduce female mortality and morbidity will be introduced. The Congress will be in the forefront of a new social reforms movement against sati, dowry deaths, female infanticide and child marriage.

The Congress has always had great faith in the nation's youth. It was Rajiv Gandhi who reduced the voting age from 21 years to 18 years. To further harness the energy and enthusiasm of our youth in critical nation building tasks, the Congress will launch a new scheme Desh ke Liye-Ek Saal. Educated youth will be mobilised and paid for their involvement for a year in mission-oriented projects in areas like literacy drives, afforestation schemes, family planning programmes, social reform movements, legal rights awareness campaigns. The choice of opting for this programme after school or college will be a matter of individual choice.

The Congress will revitalise and modernise the centuries-old revenue administration that affects the lives of crores of Indians in the rural areas of India.

Justice delayed is justice denied. There has been a welcome reduction in delays in the Supreme Court but the Indian judicial system is still characterised by long delays that hurt millions of ordinary people. In co-operation with the judiciary, the Congress will introduce fundamental judicial reforms and reforms of laws and their administration.

Over the years, the size of Government has grown. It is time for a fundamental redefinition of the role, size and scope of government at all levels. A new Administrative Reforms Commission will be set up. Key ministries and departments will undergo a major restructuring in terms of structure, functions and procedures.

The government machinery will be made more dynamic, more responsive to the needs of the people and more problem-solving in its approach and attitude. Harassment of citizens will end. Citizens have a right to demand a better quality of service from all public utilities and agencies. The Congress is fully alive to this concern and will take all necessary steps to protect the interests of ordinary citizens.

A whole new work culture is needed in India in which performance, not patronage, counts; in which productivity, not perquisites matter. The Congress will, by example and exhortation, bring about this transformation.

Why Congress?

The Congress is an umbrella organisation which has a place for everyone, from all sections of Indian society.

The Congress remains the only all-India party with an extensive organisational presence in every village, town, city and state of India.

The Congress is the only party that mirrors the diversity of India.

The Congress is the only party that reflects the plurality of India.

The Congress is the only party that respects and rejoices in the heterogeneity of India.

In its 112-year old history, the Congress had had its ups and downs. But its basic non-sectarian character has remained unchanged.

The Congress does not mobilise people from any one single group, community, jati, religion, language or region. But every group, community, jati, religion, language and region can identify with the Congress.

The Congress is a broad platform of people from every section of Indian society.

Indeed, the Congress itself has been a coalition of interests. And because of this, the Congress philosophy has been that of accommodation, of live and let live, of working through consensus at all levels.

In the Congress differences are not submerged or sought to be killed. There is open debate and discussion. The Congress believes that dissent is an essential part of democracy.

The middle-of-the-road and tolerant philosophy of the Congress is a reflection of the essence of Indian civilisation itself.

The composite nature of the Congress represents the composite nature of our ancient culture.

Thus, a vote for the Congress is a vote for

  • enriching the plurality of our society;
  • celebrating the diversity of our culture;

Thus a vote for the Congress is a vote for

  • Stability
  • Experience
  • Development

The Congress's work plan


Agriculture will be the engine of growth. It will be given the status of industry. All controls, licensing and regulations that come in the way of increasing incomes of farmers will be reviewed and removed where necessary.

The agricultural credit system will be strengthened to increase the flow of credit to farmers through co-operative banks, land development banks, commercial banks and agencies like Nabard. Group loan schemes will be encouraged. Selected co-operative banks and RRBs will be recapitalised to improve their health.

A Special Programme for Dryland Farming will be introduced. This will cover research, extension and credit support.

A time-bound programme for restoring all public tubewells to health will be launched. The pace of construction of new irrigation wells will be stepped up considerably specially in the poorer districts of the country.

A massive programme of creating rural infrastructure will be launched. The Congress government started the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund through Nabard in 1995. This will be expanded. New godowns, storage facilities, cold storage networks and access roads will get priority.

The ago-processing industry and other agriculture-related activities like livestock, aquaculture, fisheries, horticulture, sericulture and dairy development will get fresh investment and technology inputs.

The Congress will continue to lay stress on land reforms to promote security of tenure of the tiller, land consolidation, distribution of surplus land and upgradation and maintenance of accurate land records. The Congress Party will take up the cause of land reforms once again, as it did before 1947 and in the early years following Independence.

The Congress will work towards one revenue code for each state comprising of all revenue and land laws of that state.

Special programmes to restore the productivity of lands that have become barren because of reasons like salinity or alkalinity will be launched.

A renewed emphasis will be placed on wasteland development and afforestation. Industry will be involved in the regeneration of degraded forest lands with the full cooperation of local communities.

A strong agriculture is the instrument for fighting poverty. Investment is the key to continued agricultural growth. Farm prosperity cannot be sustained merely on the basis of subsidies that benefit a small section of the farming community.


The Congress's top priority has always been employment -- intensive growth. Jobless growth is socially unacceptable. At the same time, mere increase in jobs without growth and productivity cannot be sustained economically.

The employment challenge in India is daunting. Around one crore jobs have to be created every year. During the Congress regime between 1991 and 1996, about 70 lakh jobs were estimated to have been generated every year. A new momentum is needed and specific focus is needed even though sustaining the 7 pc rate of growth seen in 1994-95 and 1995-96 will, in itself, expand employment opportunities.

Continued agricultural growth will generate lakhs of additional employment opportunities. This is particularly so in the resource-rich but poorer and backward regions of the country where the potential for greater absorption of labour in farming activities is still significant. A special programme for accelerating agricultural production in the eastern and central regions of the country will be launched.

New jobs will be created in economic activities like horticulture, aquaculture, livestock, afforestation and agro-processing. These activities require fresh technology, marketing and credit inputs.

A greater thrust on exports will also create new employment. Industries like gems and jewellery, textiles, leather, software, light engineering, and consumer goods manufacturing have substantial export potential. Policies to further boost exports in these areas as also exports from agriculture will be adopted and programmes pursued.

The potential for creating employment through a massive programme of housing and construction is substantial. Laws that impede and hold back the faster development of land will be repealed and the flow of institutional finance to this sector will be at least doubled.

Small-scale industry will be made more competitive and its problems relating to the supply of working capital overcome. Small-scale industry needs a proactive approach in technology, finance and marketing.

The Congress will impart a whole new look to the KVIC. Khadi and village industries have significant potential for generating employment in rural and semi-urban areas. KVIC will be transformed into a dynamic, modern, technology-oriented, research-based and customer-focussed organisation.

The service and self-employed sector will be expanded through vastly expanded availability of finance and reforms of laws and regulations that come in the way of growth in such business.

While growth will generate jobs, there is still an important role for special employment generation programmes. Today, there are a number of such schemes. All special employment generation schemes in rural areas will be amalgamated into one revamped JRY to be implemented by panchayats. Similarly, all special employment generation programmes for the urban poor will be consolidated into one single scheme to be implemented by nagarpalikas.

The Congress will modernise the entire technical and vocational training and education system in the country. Private industry will be closely involved in the management of IITs, polytechnics and toolrooms. Job placement schemes run by employment exchanges will be significantly expanded and professionalised.

The educated unemployed will receive fresh attention. Existing apprenticeship schemes will be reviewed, expanded and made more effective. A new national service scheme will be started to involve fresh graduates in key nation building activities like literacy, rural development, etc. Entepreneurship development will receive renewed emphasis.

The key barometer of growth is jobs. Today, the employment information system is out-of-date and data on jobs becomes available once in five years. An annual employment survey will be conducted and its results made public.

The Congress will also review all existing labour legislation in consultation with industry and trade unions with a view to enhance productivity and accelerate employment creation.

Rural Development

IRDP will be the single rural development programme for creation of assets. JRY will be the single programme for wage employment creation. All existing programmes will be merged into either the IRDP or the JRY.

All IRDP and JRY funds will be transferred to zilla parishads and panchayat bodies.

An employment assurance scheme will cover all blocks of the country as part of the JRY.

The activities of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission will receive more marketing, research and technology support.

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