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Legitimising Love Jihad, control of investigation agencies and bail to accused like Umar Khalid: 7 points in Congress manifesto that point to dangerous times

The most controversial aspects of the manifesto hints at legitimising love jihad, beef-eating, control of investigating agencies and bail to criminals.

On Friday, the Congress unveiled its manifesto, titled ‘Nyay Patra,’ for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi. Leading figures of the Congress, such as party chief Mallikarjun Kharge and former presidents Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, presented the election blueprint, just days ahead of the general elections.

The Congress manifesto highlighted the importance of ‘Paanch Nyay’ or the ‘five pillars of justice,’ which include ‘Yuva Nyay,’ ‘Naari Nyay,’ ‘Kisaan Nyay,’ ‘Shramik Nyay,’ and ‘Hissedari Nyay.’ These pillars and the party’s commitments and guarantees to the people form a significant part of its election promises for the Lok Sabha polls.

However, underneath the web of jargon that Congress seems to weave, there is a sinister agenda underway that seeks to legitimise love jihad, beef-eating, control of investigating agencies and freeing of criminals, among other things. Here are 7 points in the Congress manifesto that point towards dangerous times:-

1. No ‘one nation, one election’

The Congress party has promised that there will be no ‘one nation, one election’—an idea floated by the incumbent Modi government to minimise the state exchequer on election procedures and provide governments more time to fulfil promises made to their subjects. However, the Congress party has promised that it wants to stick to the old fashion of conducting Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections as per the existing methods and tie up the entire state machinery in holding elections throughout the 5-year tenure of the central government, which often hinders them from fulfilling their poll objectives and promises through the imposition of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC).

2. Hinting at bringing back paper ballots

The Congress manifesto also spoke about bringing back paper ballots alongside EVM machines. The manifesto claims that voting will be held through EVMs but voters will be able to hold and deposit the machine-generated audit trail into the VVPAT unit. This would not only complicate the process but also provide opportunities for booth hacking where a candidate unlikely of winning an election can employ illegal means to either rig the elections or get them cancelled.

Congress’ ‘Save the Constitution’ document

3. Bringing investigating agencies under parliamentary oversight

Perhaps among the most sinister of the promises made in the Congress manifesto is bringing the police, investigation and intelligence agencies under the purview of the parliament. This would ultimately rob the agencies of their independence and make them susceptible to intereference from lawmakers, rendering them into a puppet of the government of the day.

It is worth noting such efforts to bring investigating agencies under parliamentary control were done during UPA II regime as well. In 2012, a draft legislation, introduced by a private member, was presented in parliament. This proposed law had aimed to establish the snooping agencies as statutory bodies and make them accountable to a committee under the prime minister’s authority.

The proposed billed aimed to place the Intelligence Bureau (IB), India’s domestic intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), its external espionage unit, and the technical intelligence collector National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) under the purview of parliament.

4. ‘Bail is the rule, jail is an exception’ to be implemented

The Congress party has promised to enact laws that would ensure the principle of ‘bail is the rule, jail is an exception’ is applied to all criminal laws. The implication of such a law would be such that UAPA accused like Umar Khalid and Sharjeel Imam would be out on bail, with investigating agencies, under the purview of the parliament, hard-pressed to gather evidence against them and record their depositions that would link crucial links in conspiracies hatched to create public unrest and violence.

5. Promise to end suspension of internet

The internet is a powerful tool, which has both positives and negatives attached to it, which makes it all the important for the administration to regulate it and ensure it is not being exploited for ulterior means. The Congress party has promised to end suspension of internet, a tool which is often used in Jammu and Kashmir to prevent mobilisation of stone pelters trying to impede combing operations launched by armed forces.

Congress’ ‘Save the Constitution’ document

6. Uphold people’s right to assemble

The Congress party has also promised to uphold people’s right to assembly and protest, which in crude terms means protesters get the sanction of the law to squat on busy public roads and cause grave inconvenience to commuters such as witnessed during Shaheen Bagh protests and Farmers’ protests.

7. Legitimising Love Jihad and beef consumption

Another insidious promise that Congress made in its manifesto is related to consumption of food and an individual’s choice to love and marry. Although it sounds anodyne, it is worth noting that such promises indirectly legitimise beef consumption and perennial menace of love jihad, which the Congress leaders have sought to dismiss it as figment of right-wing imagination even as hundreds of cases keep emerging almost on a daily basis.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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