The Congress on Monday released its manifesto for the Gujarat Assembly elections with a special focus on the Patidars, youths and small traders. The party promised to bring a Bill under Article 46 of the Constitution, proposing quota benefits for unreserved communities without affecting the incumbent reservation formula. Besides, it promised unemployment allowance for jobless youths, and a request with the GST council to exempt small traders and manufacturers having an annual turnover up to Rs 1.5 crore.
The three-part manifesto was released by Gujarat Congress affairs in-charge Ashok Gehlot, state party chief Bharatsinh Solanki and others. The Congress in its manifesto noted that reservation for the Patidars would be under the “Economically Backward Classes (EBC)” category. The party is seeking to split the Patidar vote bank, swung by the Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), this election.
The party, as per the manifesto, will bring the Bill “under Article 46 of the Constitution and keeping in view the provisions of Article 31(c)’’. According to Article 46, “The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.”
The Bill, the manifesto stated, will seek reservation in jobs and education for the communities “specified under Article 46 of the Constitution and which have not received any benefit under Article 15(4) and 16(4) of the Constitution’’. The Congress government, if the party comes to power in December elections, “will appoint up a commission to identify the communities to be included in the special category’’ for reservation.
It also promised that “false cases” filed against those involved in “public agitation will be reviewed and withdrawn’’, and a probe into the death of “martyrs” during the quota agitation. The manifesto also held out a “charge sheet” against the BJP, while specifically targeting niche communities like nomadic, denotified and other tribes, women and youth.
It revived its old announcements like the ‘Ghar nu ghar’ from the 2012 manifesto and promised to provide subsidised homes in the name of women. On the goods and services tax, implementation of which generated a lot of controversy, the manifesto said that the Congress government would “pursue a proposal with the GST council to exempt small traders and manufacturers having an annual turnover of Rs 1.50 crore in view of the limitations of small traders/manufacturers in compliance of the very difficult and complex formalities under the GST’’.
The party not only announced improvising certain schemes of the BJP-led NDA government like the Ujjwala Yojana, but also took cues from the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi and the ‘Amma Canteen’ initiative of the Tamil Nadu government.
The Congress announced reducing power tariff by 50 per cent — a promise inspired by the AAP government’s decision in Delhi. It said audit of all private power companies and state electricity boards will be brought under public scrutiny and the RTI Act. It also announced to set up special investigation team (SIT) in all atrocity cases like the Una incident and the 2012 Thangadh police firing. The party promised to make public the Thangadh inquiry report.
It also promised to fill all vacant positions under the reserved category as per roster system under the existing reservation policy . It also declared to built a statue of B R Ambedkar in the Bay of Cambay, taking cue from the BJP government that is building Sardar Vallabhbahi Patel statue at Narmada dam site.