Highlights

  • Comparison of Congress' 2017 and 2022 Gujarat manifestos
  • Congress focusing on Morbi bridge collapse, Bilkis rapists' release
  • In 2017, Congress rose on Patidar agitation wave to challenge BJP

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Congress' 10 promises to Gujarat: 2017 versus 2022 | Assembly Election Manifesto

In 2017, the Congress won 77 seats in the Gujarat elections - its best performance in almost 3 decades.

For the 2017 Gujarat elections, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi held around 40 rallies, and launched a state-wide bus yatra for the Gujarat elections. This time, he's busy in a Bharat Jodo Yatra in other states. In 2017, the Congress won 77 seats in the Gujarat elections - its best performance in almost 3 decades.

Can the party improve, or just maintain its streak, especially when the Aam Aadmi Party has turned the elections into a three-way fight? In the absence of big leaders swaying crowds, can the Congress' manifesto do the heavy lifting and attract voters in large numbers?

In 2017, the Congress rode on the Patidar agitation wave to challenge the BJP. Thus, one of its main promises was a special category quota for the Patidar community and other groups. It also promised the setting up of an Economically Backward Classes Commission for deprived people among upper casts, and also a Minorities Commission. This time, the Congress' special promises include restoring the name of the Narendra Modi stadium in Motera to Sardar Patel stadium. The party has also said that it will review renovation plans for the iconic Sabarmati Ashram.

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A big issue in Gujarat this time is law and order, especially in the aftermath of the Morbi bridge tragedy.

Last time, it was the Patidar agitation which dominated this agenda. The Congress had promised a special investigation team to probe alleged excesses by the authorities while dealing with Patidar demonstrators. The party also said that it would drop cases against political protestors if it wins. Another vow was setting up of fast-track courts to deal with serious economic offences.

This time, the Congress is promising to cancel the remission of sentence granted to convicts in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case. It is also promising justice in the Morbi case, and investigations into alleged scams related to the Covid pandemic, and government exam paper leaks. The party is also saying that it will create new laws to end corruption in government exams as well as deal with MLA poaching. It is also promising a new Narcotics Cell.

On the economic front, the Congress promised filling of vacant government posts in 2017. The party also said that it would slash property tax rates, and make petrol, diesel, and electricity cheaper. It also promised cheap loans and land for entrepreneurs. This time, the Congress is saying that its government would create 10 lakh job opportunities, and cut taxes by 20%. The party will also establish a ₹5,000 crore MSME fund, and help set up 1,000 industrial units with ₹50 crore turnover over 2 years.

For education, the Congress last time promised scholarships for children from poor and middle-class families. It also said that girls would get free education, and fees would be slashed in some courses in government institutes. This time, the promises have been upgraded to free Android phones for needy students. The promise of free education for girls remains, as well as a 20% fee cut vow.

Under the healthcare agenda, the Congress in 2017 said that it would issue a universal healthcare card for government hospitals, and provide free medicines at a chain of Rajiv Gandhi Pharmacies. This year, the party says that it would provide ₹4 lakh as compensation for families of those who died due to Covid. Also a part of the manifesto are promises of a ₹10 lakh medical cover, and halting of privatisation in the health sector.

For the poor, the Congress in 2017 promised 25 lakh houses. Also promised were an unemployment allowance and financial aid to widows, senior citizens, and the differently-abled. This year, the party is promising a gas cylinder subsidy, 300 units of electricity free, and the construction of 35 lakh houses.

To win over farmers, the Congress last time promised a loan waiver, 16-hour power supply, and revocation of the amended Land Acquisition Act. This time again, the manifesto includes a ₹3 lakh loan waiver promise, as well as replacement of the Special Investment Region (SIR) Act which the Congress calls "anti-farmer". The party has said that it will expand crop insurance to include horticulture as well.

The Congress had many cattle-related promises in 2017 to woo Hindu votes. These included cow protection laws, building of cow shelters, and saving of old cows from slaughterhouses. This time, the party is trying to attract fishermen by promising a ₹3 lakh loan waiver, and a ₹50 lakh package for fishermen caught by Pakistan.

For labourers, the Congress in 2017 promised food at ₹10 at Indira canteens, and an Ambedkar Samajik Suraksha card for unorganised workers. It also promised to give kerosene to Ujjwala scheme beneficiaries. This time, the Congress has said it will increase the minimum wage in construction, reverse anti-labour amendments, and stop corruption in the implementation of the MNREGA scheme.

For the rural population, the Congress in 2017 said that it would introduce a Smart Village policy to stop migration. The party also promised sanitation and drinking water supply in villages. This time, the party has said that it will review changes to the Land Acquisition Act, and also cancel land surveys done via satellite by the BJP government.

Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned BJP workers to not take the Congress lightly as it was running a "silent" campaign in Gujarat.

Elections in states like Gujarat are being seen as a semi-final before the big 2024 Lok Sabha showdown. In such a situation, the Congress' plan to not have top leaders like Rahul Gandhi lead the campaign are raising many eyebrows. Whether this strategy works or backfires will be known only on 8 December.

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