» 03/26/2009 INDIA Congress Party issues campaign platform by C.T. Nilesh The program is rather populist in nature. On the day of its presentation, accusations are flying between prime minister Manmohan Singh and the head of the opposition, L.K. Advani.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) - The president of the Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi, and prime minister Manmohan Singh have presented to the press and to the public their program in preparation for the general election, scheduled from the second half of April to the middle of May.
Launched on March 24, the populist program is full of promises to the poor, farmers, and minorities. It promises 25 kilograms of rice or wheat per month to every family below poverty line, at 3 rupees (five euro cents) per kilogram; health insurance for every family below the poverty line in three years; reserved jobs and places in the universities for Muslims; free education for Dalit (outcaste) and Adivasi (tribal) children; and a one-third quota for women in central government jobs.
The prime minister also stated that the Congress Party is the best positioned among all the parties to tackle the serious security challenges in the region, as well as the economic slowdown. The BJP, instead, has a divisive policy.
Sonia Gandhi, as chairperson of UPA (United Progressive Alliance) declared Manmohan Singh as candidate for premiership in the next five years. Provoked by a question focused on his being called a weak PM, Manmohan said that the opposition candidate, Advani, projects himself as a strong leader because he played a "prominent role" in the demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya (1992), had presided over the "massacres" of Muslims in Gujarat as home minister (20022), and had failed to prevent terror attacks on Parliament (2001) and Red Fort (2000), besides "rewarding" terrorists in the 1999 plane hijacking.
The opposition party spokesperson, Ravishankar Prasad, immediately retorted that Singh is PM by accident, not elected but appointed by Sonia Gandhi on whom he always depends for direction.