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2019 polls: Cong unveils portal 'Jan Awaz' to seek suggestions on manifesto

The broad theme under which the manifesto would be prepared was 'Jan awaz - Your Voice', Chidambaram said

P Chidambaram

Press Trust of India New Delhi
Seeking to strike a direct connect with the electorate, the Congress Monday launched its manifesto website for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls to invite suggestions and ideas from the general public.
Launching the website, senior party leader P Chidambaram said its theme was "Jan Awaz - Your Voice" and the party would adopt an inclusive approach while putting the public responses in its manifesto.
He added that though the Lok Sabha polls were some distance away, the party thought the process should start early enough.
Chidambaram said Congress president Rahul Gandhi had made it clear on several occasions that the party manifesto would be prepared following an "inclusive process".
"It will be based on conversations with the people of India. We will ask people, encourage people, motivate people to tell us what they expect of the Congress party and should the Congress party form the government, what will they expect from the government," he told reporters.
The broad theme under which the manifesto would be prepared was "Jan awaz - Your Voice", Chidambaram said.
He said manifestos were important to make governments accountable to people, whichever party came to power, adding that every political party was obliged to tell the people what would it do if it formed government.
"I do not think you should diminish the importance of manifestos and go by jumla-like promises," the former Union minister said, taking a dig at the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government.
He added that a 22-member manifesto committee was formed by the Congress and Rajeev Gowda was its convenor.
Chidambaram, who is the chairman of the panel, said it would be divided into 20 subject groups, each under a member, adding that the consultation process had started on October 1.
He said the committee members had travelled to different parts of the country and held both closed-door and open-house consultations.
"We had a huge open-house consultation in Mumbai the day before yesterday in the famous amphitheatre of Bandra Bandstand. Over 400-500 people had gathered, one half of them Congress workers, but one half of them general public.
"We expect that each of our sub-groups will hold eight to 10 consultations, which will mean that through the length and breadth of the country, we will have about 150-160 consultations. The process is expected to be completed by December," the former finance minister said, adding that there was no deadline for sending suggestions.
Gowda said the process of consultation and receiving responses would end by this calendar year and after that, the panel would prepare a draft manifesto, which will finally be approved by the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the highest decision-making body of the opposition party.
Chidambaram said since the Congress wanted to involve as many people as possible, "we are launching a dedicated website for manifesto ideas, manifesto consultation".
He said India had an Internet user base of about 40 crore people and the use of the Internet was increasing every day, adding that the party thought it must tap into this technology to get ideas from different parts of the country.
Chidambaram said people could send their suggestions and ideas in as many as 16 languages through emails to manifesto@inc.in or through a dedicated WhatsApp number -- 72920-88245.
He added that the party hoped that millions of Indians would participate in the process and in addition to Congress workers, millions of individuals who were not attached to any political party would also take part.
Organisations, trade unions, trade bodies, student bodies, mahila groups could also participate in the process, the Congress leader said.
"We want to make this as inclusive as possible, as broad-based as possible and have as many conversations as possible," he said.
Gowda said the website was dedicated to the manifesto consultation process and the larger theme was "your aspirations shape the future of India, your voice inspires change and the Indian National Congress is listening to you".
Asked whether the issues of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh and farm loan waiver would be included in the party manifesto, Chidambaram said, "Suggestions will come. We will take your suggestions on board. At the moment, I have a notebook where I am writing the suggestions. I am not reading out any promises yet, that stage will come closer to the election."

On whether any time-bound promise would be made by the party in the manifesto, he said it would depend on the CWC's decision.
"Our job is to prepare a draft manifesto. Ultimately, it has to be approved by the CWC," Chidambaram said, adding that the structure of the document changed from one election to another.

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First Published: Oct 29 2018 | 8:40 PM IST

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