Defeat the BJP alliance, increase the strength of the CPI(M) and the Left in the Lok Sabha, and ensure an alternative secular government is formed at the Centre - these are the three building blocks of CPI (M)’s manifesto. CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and Polit Bureau members Brinda Karat, Prakash Karat, Nilotpal Basu, Hannan Mollah, Subhashini Ali and S Ramachandran Pillai released the national party manifesto on Thursday.
Highlighting BJP-led NDA’s “brazen and continuing assault” on the Constitutional authorities and institutions during these last five years (including harassment and intimidation of intellectuals and lawyers who support those targeted by the government), the CPI (M) promises a radical shift in the policy direction to ensure education, quality health care, employment and a decent livelihood.
Some of the key promises in the manifesto have been proposed as an alternative to the policies implemented by the BJP in the last five years.
1. Scrapping Aadhaar and biometrics for all social welfare measures.
2. Removing all communal content in school textbooks.
3. Repeal sedition law (Section 124 A of IPC)
4. Banning of all illegal private armies and vigilante groups and enact a law against lynching.
5. Removal of RSS personnel appointed in key positions.
6. Comprehensive law against communal violence to provide justice and adequate compensation and State support to the victims.
7. Reforming the electoral system by introduction of proportional representation with partial list system.
8. Scrapping electoral bonds
9. Raising taxes on the rich and corporate profits.
10. Restoring wealth tax for super rich and introduce inheritance tax.
11. Restoring long-term capital gains tax.
12. Halting privatisation of public sector enterprises
13. Rolling back privatisation in defence, energy and railways and basic services.
14. No further PPPs in domestic airports that are already modernised by Airport Authority of India (AAI).
15. Transferring centrally-sponsored schemes under a State subject with funds to the states.
The CPI(M) also proffers a set of promises for the empowerment and welfare of women, the transgender community, farmers, labourers, people in their old age and the youth.
- The party has promised to ensure the statutory minimum wage for workers is not less than Rs 18,000.
- Another notable aspect of the manifesto is that the party will increase the minimum wage for agricultural workers to Rs 600 per day. The party has also stated that it will ensure that women agricultural workers will get equal wages.
- In its manifesto, the CPI(M) states that it will enable senior citizens to immediately establish a publicly-funded, universal and non-contributory Old Age Pension System with a minimum amount of monthly pension not less than 50 percent of minimum wage or Rs 6,000 per month.
- The party states that it will include the Right to Work as a constitutional right and it also stated that it will draft a new National Youth Policy to address the concerns of the youth.
- As far as education is concerned, 6 percent of the GDP will be the public expenditure on education. The manifesto also says it will ensure “no Vice-Chancellors or key personnel in State-funded institutions have anti-secular views”.
- For Persons with Disability (PwD), the CPI (M) has promised to provide free aids and appliances, with zero GST on the vehicles they use. Health facilities will also be made free and accessible to them. Besides, CPI (M) believes that households with PwDs should have the first claim on the government’s land distribution programmes.
- A legislation will be formed at the Centre to ensure a portion of the plan expenditure will be reserved for the members of SC and ST. Besides, SC and ST members will be given 5 acres of cultivable land. In addition to reservation for Dalits Christians and Dalit Muslims, the party has also promised reservation in jobs and education in the private sector for SCs & STs. There will be a special plan, which ensures that all SC families will be given land, house and electricity.
- ExtendingOBC reservation to all private educational institutions and simplifying procedures for issuing OBC certificate have also been promised.
- To ensure the rights of women, the CPI (M) has promised to make marital rape an offence; provide adequate maintenance and rehabilitation for all “deserted women”, including victims of instantaneous talaq; penalties on any personnel, including police, who sabotage or delay cases; set up of fast track courts; ensure fully-funded rehabilitation scheme for victims of sexual violence and acid attacks. The party has also ensured to enact the 33 per cent Women’s Reservation Bill to reserve one-third seats in Parliament and State Assemblies for women, in addition to scrapping the ordinance criminalising triple talaq. A stand-alone law against the so-called honour crimes is another highlight in the manifesto.
If it comes to power, the CPI(M) has promised to institute speedy investigation and punishment in corruption scams (like the Rafale aircraft deal), ensure a political solution and economic development of Jammu and Kashmir, as well as to scrap the controversial Citizen Amendment Bill.