Business Standard

A tale of three economic models: Congress bets on tried and tested schemes

The party's Madhya Pradesh manifesto combines schemes tested in Karnataka, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh

Rahul Gandhi, Kharge

Rahul Gandhi (left) accused the Adani Group of fleecing people to the tune of ~12,000 cr by making them pay more for electricity through over-invoicing of coal imports pti

Archis Mohan New Delhi

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The Congress party's 116-page manifesto for the Madhya Pradesh Assembly polls, released on Tuesday, has coalesced schemes that the party's governments have tested in Karnataka, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. The party's strategists believe these are three distinct economic models that its governments have offered to the country. And, the 'best practices' from these states, including Himachal Pradesh, will contribute to shaping the Congress's manifesto for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

The party plans to showcase its 'Chhattisgarh model' of revitalising the rural economy by delivering efficient and remunerative paddy procurement and encouraging cottage and small industries in a primarily rural state. "The 'Rajasthan model' has addressed issues facing the urban poor, including an urban income and employment guarantee, health insurance, food kitchens and government-run Mahatma Gandhi English medium schools," Govind Singh Dotasra, the Congress's Rajasthan state unit chief, and the state’s former education minister, told Business Standard.

The Congress government in Karnataka has launched schemes that offer a comprehensive social security net, and the government's State Institute for the Transformation of Karnataka (SITK) is now formulating policies that would showcase the party's promise to create jobs by assisting small and medium enterprises’ (SMEs’) growth and urban planning. The Congress's Telangana manifesto is set to address the question of the welfare not only of landholding farmers but also tenant farmers, which until now are not covered under the existing financial assistance schemes in most states.

At a press conference on Tuesday in Aizawl, the capital of poll-bound Mizoram, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the party’s state governments were "testing ideas", "scaling" those that work, and implementing these in the rest of the country. For example, the Congress in Madhya Pradesh has promised the 'Vardaan' health insurance of Rs 25 lakh and Rs 10 lakh accidental insurance to each household, which has already been implemented as the Chiranjeevi health insurance by the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government in Rajasthan. Gandhi described it as the best health insurance scheme in the country.

In Chhattisgarh, the Congress government procured paddy at Rs 2,500 per quintal, the highest in the country, Gandhi pointed out. "We are developing these models in our states, and our idea is to take Rajasthan's healthcare (model) and expand it to the rest of India when we come to power in Delhi. We will take some ideas on small-scale manufacturing from Chhattisgarh and expand them to the rest of the country," Gandhi said.

According to a party strategist, the Congress' economic vision has evolved since Rahul Gandhi announced the "Nyaya" scheme, promising Rs 6,000 per month to poor households, in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Consistent with his assessment that the benefits of the 1991 reforms didn't trickle down to sizeable sections, the Congress state governments have introduced schemes that target specific socio-economic groups, especially the lower-middle class and the poor with an eye on creating jobs in the micro, small and medium enterprises and the agriculture sector. The Madhya Pradesh manifesto, for example, focuses on setting up food processing units and has committed to drafting an agriculture export policy to cushion farmers from price fluctuations.

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First Published: Oct 18 2023 | 10:06 PM IST

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