With an eye on young voters, the Congress is toying with the idea of promising in its election manifesto the ‘right to employment’. According to estimates, about 45 per cent of the eligible voters this time are aged 35 or below.
The party is in the final stage of its manifesto drafting exercise and sources said the right to employment, along with right to healthcare — promising universal healthcare coverage and free medicines — right to justice and right to housing are likely to find a place in it. Sources said interest-free education loans would be another promise in the document — an idea the party feels would find resonance with the middle class population, especially in urban centres.
BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi as well as the Aam Aadmi Party have been focusing their energies on urban India, and the Congress hopes its manifesto promises could make a difference. In the last 10 years in power, the Congress-led government enacted the right to information, right to education and right to food, besides conferring forest rights on tribals.
While the MNREGA — touted as the right to work — continues to be the centrepiece of the UPA government’s achievements, the right to employment is being conceived as the next logical step. MNREGA guarantees 100 days of employment to its beneficiaries in rural areas.
The manifesto committee of the Congress is headed by A K Antony, with P Chidambaram, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Anand Sharma and Salman Khurshid as members. In a departure from the past, the Congress has been holding public consultations and seeking inputs for the manifesto.