Cong releases manifesto; says BJP 'balloon' will explode again

Cong releases manifesto; says BJP 'balloon' will explode again

 Unveiling an agenda of rights- based welfare schemes with reforms to pursue growth and job creation, Congress top brass today said BJP's poll campaign "balloon" will explode like 'India Shining' 10 years ago.

Warning that Narendra Modi's ideology is damaging for the country, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asserted that party will fight in a determined manner the upcoming Lok Sabha polls to ensure its defeat.

Releasing the party's manifesto 'Your Voice, Our Pledge' here, they debunked the opinion polls, which predict a dismal show by the UPA, and said everybody will be "surprised" by the results.

On the upbeat campaign mounted by NDA under Modi, Rahul said, "just like the 'India Shining' balloon exploded... I can say certainly the balloon will explode."

"India shining was an excellent campaign. They thought they will get 350 seats. But it evaporated when the results came. I am confident that like the balloon of India Shining, this time also the balloon will explode," he said.

With Congress fighting the elections with its back to the wall on a variety of issues, including corruption and price rise, the Prime Minister conceded that corruption "cannot be wished away" in a developing country. He, however, said mechanisms have been put in place to deal with it.

At the same time, Sonia Gandhi brushed aside criticism over nomination of former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, whose name figured in the Adarsh Housing scam, saying he has not been barred from contesting elections by any law or the Election Commission.

The 49-page manifesto was prepared over five months using a different approach of consulting people which Rahul did.

It promised an ambitious six-point charter of pro-poor measures, including the right to affordable healthcare, housing and pension, and to uplift 80 crore of the population to the middle class.

Amid demands that job reservation be extended to private sector, the party committed itself to creating a national consensus on affirmative action in this regard.

It has also set out a special Youth and Student Agenda committing to train 10 crore youth and give them employment opportunities in five years.

Expressing a resolve to tackle corruption, an issue that has hit UPA-II in the form of scams like 2G, coal and CWG, the party pledged to appoint a special envoy on black money.

Rahul along with Sonia Gandhi debunked the opinion polls which project a dismal show for the Congress.

"I frankly don't have much faith in the opinion polls. In 2004 also, the story of Congress was over as per the opinion polls. In 2009 also, we were given no chance. But we got more seats. So, we cannot go 100 per cent by the opinion polls," the Congress president said.

Rahul also talked in same vein, saying in 2009 Congress was projected to suffer badly and predicted NDA wave. In UP, Congress was projected to get 5 seats (but it got 22 seats).

"You did not believe us then. When the results come (this time), you will be surprised," he added.

At the function to release the manifesto, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi hailed the 10-year rule of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as they promised a slew of initiatives under the "New Vision".

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