5 Apr 2024

Congress Manifesto: Free Healthcare and ₹1 Lakh Assistance for the Needy; These Are Other Key Highlights

The Congress party unveiled its manifesto for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections-2024, outlining a comprehensive agenda focused on addressing unemployment, empowering women, and conducting a socio-economic caste census. Emphasizing the centrality of the Indian Constitution, the manifesto outlined several key initiatives:

Socio-Economic Caste Census: A nationwide census will be conducted to assess the socio-economic status of different castes and sub-castes. This data will inform policies aimed at enhancing affirmative action, with the Congress proposing a constitutional amendment to lift the 50% cap on reservations for SC, ST, and OBC categories.

Protection of Minority Rights: The party pledges to safeguard the fundamental right to practice one's faith and uphold the rights of religious and linguistic minorities as enshrined in the Constitution.

Enhanced Social Assistance: Pension amounts for senior citizens, widows, and persons with disabilities under the National Social Assistance Programme will be raised from Rs 200-500 to Rs 1,000 per month.

Universal Healthcare: The Congress promises free healthcare services, including diagnostics, treatment, and medicines, at public health facilities such as hospitals, clinics, and primary health centers.

Right to Apprenticeship: A new Right to Apprenticeship Act will be introduced to provide one-year apprenticeships, along with a stipend of ₹1 lakh per year, to diploma holders and college graduates below the age of 25.

Educational Reforms: The Right to Education Act will be amended to make education from Class I to Class XII in public schools compulsory and free. Additionally, one-third reservation for women will be implemented in state Assemblies and the Lok Sabha.

Economic Support for the Poor: The Mahalakshmi scheme will provide  Rs 1 lakh per year as unconditional cash transfers to impoverished Indian families identified at the bottom of the income spectrum.

Agricultural Reforms: Legal guarantees will be provided for Minimum Support Prices (MSP) for agricultural produce, and subsidies for diesel will be reinstated for sea-going fishing communities.

Judicial Reforms: The Congress proposes the establishment of a National Judicial Commission in consultation with the judiciary to expedite appointments and fill vacancies in the High Courts and Supreme Court.

Employment Opportunities: Efforts will be made to fill approximately 30 lakh vacancies in various government departments, educational institutions, and medical facilities, including teaching and non-teaching positions.

Relief for Students: The Congress announced that, as a "one-time relief measure," the outstanding amount owed, including accrued interest as of March 15, 2024, for student education loans, will be forgiven, with banks being reimbursed by the government.

Furthermore, the party vows to restore democracy and ensure freedom of speech and expression, along with strengthening journalistic freedoms through amendments to relevant legislation. These initiatives collectively reflect the Congress party's commitment to inclusive governance, said the manifesto.

Besides, in its manifesto Congress has said that 'suspicious' deals regarding electoral bonds will be investigated and those who have earned illegal profits through unfair means will be brought under the ambit of law.

Along with this, it has been said in the manifesto that the accused in registered cases who joined BJP were allowed to escape the law. The allegations against such people will be re-investigated. 

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