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8 May, 2024 10:57

Indian opposition vows to scrap Modi schemes

The Congress Party has proposed reversing key policies implemented by the ruling BJP, if voted into power
Indian opposition vows to scrap Modi schemes

The Indian National Congress (INC), the country’s largest opposition group, has vowed to scrap key policies introduced by the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) if voted into power in the ongoing election.

Rahul Gandhi, a prominent figure in the Congress Party, the key opposition force challenging the BJP, has promised to abolish the ‘Agnipath’ scheme introduced in 2022. The policy is seen as a complete overhaul of India’s recruitment to non-officer posts in the army, and is aimed at recruiting soldiers on a contract basis for a four-year term, without a pension.

The Congress has vehemently opposed the scheme, claiming it reduces the participants’ chances of gaining permanent jobs with the military, which guarantee fixed salaries and pensions, including in case of death on duty.

Speaking at an election rally in the state of Jharkhand, Gandhi also promised to overhaul the BJP’s existing Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, which in 2017 replaced a variety of indirect domestic taxes. Congress previously claimed that GST had “wrecked the economy,” and vowed in its election manifesto to introduce a new ‘GST-2.0’ with a single tax slab, supposedly less of a burden on the poor.

Sonia Gandhi, Rahul’s mother and currently the chairperson of the Congress Party, on Tuesday, released a video in which she claimed that BJP policies were responsible for “youth unemployment, crimes against women, and discrimination against ‘dalits’ (lower caste Hindus), ‘adivasis’ (tribals), and minorities.” The BJP, Gandhi claimed, craved power by “rejecting inclusivity and dialogue.”

The Congress manifesto also claimed that “the people of India are divided into economic terms” due to the BJP’s policies. Instead, it pledged to build a “fair, just, and equal-opportunity economy and bring prosperity to all sections of the people.” 

The BJP, however, accused the rival party of intending to seize and redistribute the wealth of Indians, and giving preference to the largest minority, Muslims. Modi courted controversy last month when he claimed that Congress would give the country’s wealth to “those who have children,” indirectly indicating Muslims.

The Congress denied the claims and accused the leader of hate speech. Following the remarks, the Election Commission of India (ECI), an independent poll body, sent a notice to the BJP.

In a separate development on Tuesday, the election body directed social media platform X (formerly Twitter) to take down an animated video post published by the BJP allegedly targeting Muslims. The response was based on a complaint from the opposition, which claimed the video stirred enmity and hatred.

The ongoing election in India to elect 543 members of the Lower House (Lok Sabha) to form the next government has been dubbed the world’s “largest democratic exercise,” as over 960 million people are eligible to vote. It is conducted in seven phases – the first three were held on April 19 and 26 and May 7. The remaining phases will be held on May 13, 20, and 25, and June 1. Vote counting will take place on a single day, June 4.

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