NEW DELHI (Reuters) – From a monthly dole for the poor to jobs quota for women, India’s main opposition Congress party is making one promise after another in a bid to oust Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a multi-phase general election that starts next week.
Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has also weighed measures to woo farmers, small business owners and those who are less well-off.
Here are the main promises made by Congress, which will release its election manifesto on Tuesday.
“ASSAULT ON POVERTY”
The programme, to be implemented in phases, would benefit 250 million of a population of 1.3 billion, Gandhi said.
The BJP has called the announcement a gimmick while some economists have called it fiscally irresponsible.
Gandhi says there are 2.2 million vacant government jobs and that Congress will fill them by March 31, 2020 if voted back to power.
The party has promised to reserve a third of federal government jobs for women and push through the long-pending Women’s Reservation Bill, which provides for 33 percent of seats in national and state assemblies to be reserved for women.
Congress has promised to more than double healthcare spending to 3 percent of GDP by 2024, provide free diagnostics and medicines through public hospitals, set up more medical colleges and give financial support to medical students.
It has promised to boost spending on education to 6 percent of GDP by 2023/24, up from an estimated 2.7 percent in 2018.
Gandhi has said he will relax rules for new businesses and offer tax incentives to firms in order to create jobs if he comes to power.
New businesses would not need any government permissions in the first three years of operations. Congress would scrap taxes on investors in new businesses and make bank loans easier.
Congress has promised to reform the goods and services tax into a “simple and minimum tax”.
($1=69.3040 Indian rupees)