New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi on Monday asked Congress leaders to ensure that suggestions received from people are not ignored, as senior party functionaries tonight deliberated on issues and programmes to be included in the manifesto for the upcoming general elections.
In the second meeting of Congress' manifesto committee, headed by Union Minister AK Antony, Gandhi, who had launched a website to receive direct inputs from the public, said all worthwhile suggestions from the people should be incorporated
and there is a need to look at the issues seriously, party sources said.
The meeting was held at 15, Gurudwara Rakabganj Road, also known as the Congress War Room. Antony, P Chidambaram, Sushilkumar Shinde, Anand Sharma, Salman Khurshid, Sandeep Dikshit, Ajit Jogi, Renuka Chowdhary, P L Punia, Mohan Gopal, Jairam Ramesh and Digvijay Singh are members of the manifesto committee.
The panel had first met on August 9, which was "merely an exchange of views on issues". Gandhi has been telling partymen for quite some time that there is a need to involve people from grassroot in policy-making and inputs should also be taken from block Congress committees when the party finalises the manifesto.
This was one of the highlights of his speech during Congress' 'Chintan Shivir' held in Jaipur in January this year when he was anointed the party's Vice-President. In today's meeting, Gandhi said a system needs to be evolved so that the suggestions are collated subject-wise and then cosidered for inclusion in the manifesto.
Union Minister Jairam Ramesh was asked to create a timetable on how to go ahead with the plan. During the meeting, Chidambaram said future meetings on the issue should be held keeping in mind the upcoming Winter Session of Parliament in December, the sources said.
In a rally in Alwar, Rajasthan, on October 23, Gandhi had launched the party website http://www.incmanifesto.in, which opens with a declaration by Congress. It has so far received over 4,000 suggestions.
The website says, "We invite every citizen of India to give us their ideas and suggestions for the 2014 Lok Sabha Election Manifesto of the Congress Party. The Congress is the first party to open up its national manifesto-building process to the general public.
"In addition to this website, the Congress Party is holding direct public consultations across the country to empower the voice of those who do not have access to the Internet. All ideas and suggestions you provide will be presented to the national leadership of the Congress and will be duly considered for inclusion in the manifesto. Your voice will build the Congress manifesto," it says.
The party has thanked the people for sending in over a thousand suggestions since its launch. Universal free health care, safety of women, solution to the Naxal issue, freedom from open defecation and treating education differently from a product are some of the suggestions that people have made on the website in the last few days.
"Congress must promise to bring universal free health care for all and social security system pension to all above 60," a post on the website says. "I would like #INCManifesto to give prominence to women and child welfare. More empowered women in the country. Safety of our women a priority," says another post.
One of the posts reflects the concern over the quality of higher education in private universities. "Private Universities must ensure good quality staff and up-to-date infrastructure. Education should not be treated as product," it says.
The other posts seek a "promise" from Congress to end the Naxal problem, importance to various agroproducts, and promotion of tourism in the party manifesto. "Goal of becoming open defecation-free in next 5 years," demands one of the residents.
Gandhi has been saying that the Congress Party's manifesto should decided by the youth, women and common people.