Following is the draft of Common Minimum Programme circulated by Congress to its allies and supporting parties:
The people of India have voted decisively in the 14th Lok Sabha election for secular, progressive forces, for parties wedded to the welfare of farmers, agricultural labour, weavers and weaker sections of society, for parties irrevocably committed to the daily well-being of the common man across the country.
In keeping with this mandate, the Congress, its pre-poll allies that include the RJD, DMK, NC, PMK, TRS, JMM, LJP, MDMK, AIMIM, PDP, IUML, RPI (A) and KC (J) and the Left parties have come together to form a United Progressive Alliance that will run the central government for the next five years. The UPA government will have six basic principles for governance
To preserve, protect and promote social harmony and to enforce the law without fear or favour to deal with all obscurantist and fundamentalist elements who seek to disturb social amity and peace.
To ensure that the economy grows at least 7-8% per year in a sustained manner and in a manner that generates employment so that each family is assured of a safe and viable livelihood.
To enhance the welfare and well being of farmers and farm labour and assure a secure future for their families in every respect.
To fully empower women politically, educationally, economically and legally.
To provide for full equality of opportunity particularly in education and employment for Dalits, tribals, OBCs and religious minorities.
To unleash the creative energies of our entrepreneurs, businessmen, scientists, engineers and all other professionals and productive forces of society.
The UPA government will immediately enact a National Employment Guarantee Act. This will provide a legal guarantee for at least 100 days of employment on asset-creating public works programmes every year at minimum wage for every rural household.
The UPA government will establish a National Commission to examine the problems facing enterprises in the unorganised, informal sector. The Commission will be asked to make appropriate recommendations to provide technical, marketing and credit support to these enterprises. A National Fund will be created for this purpose.
The UPA administration will revamp the functioning of the KVIC and launch new programmes for the modernisation of the coir industry, handlooms, powerlooms, handicrafts, food processing, sericulture, wool development leather, pottery etc.
The UPA government will give the highest investment, credit and technological priority to the continued growth of agriculture, horticulture, aquaculture, afforestation, dairying and agro-processing that will significantly add to the creation of new jobs.
Along with vastly expanding credit facilities for small scale industry and self-employment, the UPA government will ensure that the services industry will be given all support to fulfill its true employment potential.
This includes software and IT-enabled services, trade, distribution, transport, finance and telecommunication and tourism.
The textile industry will be enabled to meet new challenges imposed by the abolition of the international multi-fibre agreement in January 2005.
The UPA government will ensure that public investment in agriculture and irrigation is stepped up in a significant manner at the very earliest. This is particularly true in the central and eastern regions of the country.
The rural cooperative credit system will be nursed back to health. The UPA government will ensure that the flow of rural credit is doubled in the next three years and that the coverage of small and marginal farmers by institutional lending is expanded substantially.
Immediate steps will be taken to ease the burden of debt and high interest rates on farm loans. Farm insurance schemes will be made more effective.
The UPA government will introduce a special programme for dryland farming in the arid and semi-arid regions of the country. Watershed and wasteland development programmes will be taken up on a massive scale. Water management in all its aspects, both for irrigation and drinking purposes, will receive urgent attention.
The UPA Administration will ensure the fullest implementation of minimum wage laws for farm Labour. Comprehensive protective legislation will be enacted for all agricultural workers. Revenue administration will be thoroughly modernised.
The UPA government will bring forward a Constitutional Amendment to ensure the democratic, autonomous and professional functioning of cooperatives.
Controls that depress the incomes of farmers will be systematically removed. Farmers will be given greater say in the organisations that supply inputs to them.
The UPA government will ensure that adequate protection is provided to all farmers from imports, particularly when international prices fall sharply.
The UPA government will ensure that government agencies entrusted with the responsibility for procurement and marketing will pay special attention to farmers in poor and backward states and districts. Farmers all over the country will receive fair and remunerative prices. The terms of trade will always be maintained in favour of agriculture.
The UPA government pledges to raise public spending in education to least 6 per cent of GDP with at least half this amount being spent on primary and secondary schools.
The UPA government will introduce a cess on all central taxes to finance the commitment to universalise access to quality basic education.
A National Commission on Education will be set up to allocate resources and monitor programmes.
The UPA will take immediate steps to reverse the trend of communalisation of education that had set in the past five years. It will also ensure that all institutions of higher learning and professional education retain their autonomy.
The UPA will ensure that nobody is denied professional education because he or she is poor.
Academic excellence and professional competence would be the sole criteria for all appointments to bodies like the ICHR, ICSSR, UGC, NCERT.
A national cooked nutritious mid-day meal scheme will be introduced in primary and secondary schools. The UPA will also universalise the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme to provide a functional anganwadi in every settlement and ensure full coverage for all children. The UPA will fully back and support all NGO efforts in the area of primary education.
The UPA will raise public spending on health to at least 2% of GDP over the next five years with focus on primary health care. A national scheme for health insurance for poor families will be introduced. The UPA will step up public investment in programmes to control all communicable disease and also provide leadership to the national AIDS control effort.
FOOD AND NUTRITION SECURITY:
The UPA will work out, in the next three months, a comprehensive medium-term strategy for food and nutrition security. It will strengthen the PDS particularly in the poorest and backward blocks of the country and also involve women's and ex-servicemen's cooperatives in its management.
Special schemes to reach foodgrains to the most destitute and infirm will be launched. Grain banks in chronically food-scarce areas will be established. Antyodaya cards for all households at risk of hunger will be introduced.
The UPA government will bring about major improvements in the functioning of the FCI to control the growth of food subsidies.
Nutrition programmes, particularly for the girl child will be expanded on a significant scale.
The UPA government will ensure that all funds for poverty alleviation and rural development programmes will be credited directly to panchayat bodies. Devolution of funds will be accompanied by similar devolution of functions and functionaries as well.
The UPA government will ensure that the Gram Sabha is empowered to emerge as the foundation of panchayati raj.
The UPA will urge the state to make legislation for conferring ownership rights in respect of minor forest produce, including tendu leaves on all those people from weaker sections who work in the forests.
All reservation quotas, including those relating to promotions will be fulfilled in a time-bound manner.
The UPA government will launch a comprehensive national programme for minor irrigation of all lands owned by Dalits and adivasis. Landless families will be endowed with some land through proper implementation of land ceiling and land redistribution legislation.
The UPA administration will take all measures to reconcile the objectives of economic growth and environmental conservation, particularly as far as tribal communities dependent on forests are concerned.
The UPA is concerned with the growth of Naxalite violence in different states. This is not merely a law and order problem but a far deeper socio-economic issue, which will be addressed more meaningfully than has been the case so far.
The UPA government will immediately review the overall strategy and programmes for the development of tribal areas to plug loopholes and to work out more viable livelihood strategies. In addition, more effective systems of relief and rehabilitation will be put in place for tribal and other groups displaced by development projects.
The UPA government will immediately initiate a dialogue with industry and other parties on how best the private sector can fulfill the aspirations of scheduled caste and scheduled tribe youth.
WELFARE OF MINORITIES:
The UPA is committed to the implementation of the Protection of Places of Worship Act 1992.
On Ayodhya, it will await the verdict of the courts, while encouraging negotiations between parties to the dispute for an amicable settlement.
The UPA government will enact a comprehensive law against communal violence providing for investigations by a central agency, prosecution by special courts and payment of uniform compensation.
The UPA government will amend the Constitution to establish a Commission for Minorities Educational Institutions that will provide direct affiliation for professional institutions to central universities.
The UPA will provide modern and technical education among all minority communities. Social and economic empowerment of minorities through more systematic attention to education and employment will be a priority concern for the UPA.
The UPA will establish a National Commission to examine the issue of backwardness and adequate representation of all religious and linguistic minorities and make recommendations on the issue.
The UPA will actively encourage and foster public-private partnerships in the expansion of physical infrastructure like roads, highways, ports, power, railways, power, water supply and sanitation. Public investment in infrastructure will be enhanced, even as the role of the private sector is expanded in areas like power distribution for instance. Subsidies will be made explicit and provided through the budget.
The UPA government commits itself to a comprehensive programme of urban renewal and to a massive expansion of social housing in towns and cities, paying particular attention to the needs of slum dwellers. Housing for the weaker sections in rural areas will be expanded on a large scale.
The UPA will give special attention to augmenting and modernising rural infrastructure consisting of roads, irrigation, electrification, cold chain and marketing outlets. All existing irrigation projects will be completed within three-four years. Household electrification will be complete in five years.
The UPA government will examine the techno-economic feasibility of linking the rivers of the country starting with the south bound rivers that protects the interests of all states. The UPA will take all steps to ensure that long-pending inter-state disputes on rivers and water-sharing like the Cauvery Waters dispute are settled amicably at the earliest keeping in mind the interests of all parties to the dispute.
To put an end to the acute drinking water shortage in cities, especially in southern states, desalination plants will be installed all along the Coromandel Coast starting with Chennai.
The UPA government in committed to redressing growing regional imbalances both among states as well as within states through fiscal and other means. A structured and transparent approach to alleviate the burden of debt on states will be adopted so as to enable them to increase social sector investments.
The UPA government will make the NDC a more effective instrument of cooperative federalism. The NDC will meet at least three times a year and in different states. The Inter-State Council will also be activated.
The UPA will establish a Second States Reorganisation Commission to consider all demands for new states in a systematic manner.
The UPA will pay special attention to bringing peace and accelerating development in the northeastern states. Stern steps will be taken to curb militancy.
The Sarkaria Commission had last looked at the issue of Centre-State relations over two decades ago. The UPA government will set up a new Commission for this purpose keeping in view the sea-changes that have taken place in the polity and economy of India since then.
Long-pending schemes in specific states that have national significance like the Sethu Samuthuiram project will be completed expeditiously.
The UPA will set up an Administrative Reforms Commission to prepare a detailed blueprint for revamping the public administration system. E-governance will be promoted on a massive scale. The Right to Information Act will be made more progressive, participatory and meaningful.
The UPA will take the leadership role to drastically cut delays in High Courts and lower levels of the judiciary. Legal aid services will be expanded.
As part of its commitment to electoral reforms, the UPA will initiate steps to introduce state funding of elections at the earliest.
The UPA will take all necessary steps to revive industrial growth and put it on a robust footing through continued deregulation and other policies. Incentives to boost private investment will be introduced. FDI will continue to be encouraged. The country needs and can easily absorb at least two to three times the present level of FDI inflows. Indian industry will be given every support to become productive and competitive. All regulatory institutions will be strengthened to ensure that competition is free and fair. These institutions will be run professionally.
The UPA government will set up a National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council to provide a continuing forum for policy dialogue to energise and sustain the growth of manufacturing industry like food processing, textiles, engineering, consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, capital goods, leather, and IT hardware. Household and artisanal manufacturing will be given greater technological, investment and marketing support. Small-scale industry will be freed from Inspector Raj and given full credit, technological and marketing support. Infrastructure upgradation in major industrial clusters will receive urgent attention.
Competition in the financial sector will be expanded. Public sector banks will be given full managerial autonomy. Interest rates will provide incentives both to savers and investors. Regulation of urban cooperative banks in particular and of banks in general will be made more effective.
The UPA government is firmly committed to ensure the welfare and well-being of all workers, particularly those in the unorganised sector who constitute 93% of our workforce.
Social security, health insurance and other schemes for such workers like weavers, handloom workers, fishermen and fisherwomen, toddy tappers, leather workers, plantation labour, beedi workers etc will be expanded.
The UPA rejects the idea of automatic hire and fire. It recognises that some flexibility has to be provided to industry in the matter of labour policy but such flexibility must ensure that workers and their families are fully protected. The UPA will pursue a dialogue with industry and trade unions on this issue before coming up with specific proposals.
The UPA government is committed to the public sector strategy articulated by the Congress during 1991-96 and by the United Front during 1996-98 when Shri Murasoli Maran was the Industry Minister. The UPA government is committed to a strong and effective public sector whose social objectives are met by its commercial functioning. But for this there is need for selectivity and a strategic focus. The UPA is pledged to devolve full managerial and commercial autonomy to successful, profit-making companies operating in a competitive environment.
All privatisation will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The UPA will retain ONGC, IOC, HPCL, BPCL, GAIL, NTPC, SAIL and BHEL in the public sector while divestment takes place. Chronically loss-making companies will either be sold off or closed after all workers have got their legitimate dues and compensation. The UPA will induct private industry to turn around companies that have potential for revival.
The UPA government believes that privatisation should increase competition, not decrease it. It also believes that there must be a direct link between privatisation and social needs like, for example, the use of privatisation revenues for designated social sector schemes. Public sector companies and nationalised banks will be encouraged to enter the capital market to raise resources and offer new investment avenues to retail investors.
The UPA government commits itself to eliminating the revenue deficit of the centre by 2009 so as to release more resources for investments in social and physical infrastructure. Subsidies will be targeted sharply at the poor and truly needy. A detailed roadmap for accomplishing this will be unveiled in Parliament within 90 days.
The UPA government reiterates its commitment to VAT after all the necessary homework has been completed. It will initiate measures to increase the tax: GDP ratio by undertaking major tax reforms that expand the base of taxpayers, increase tax compliance and make the tax administration more efficient. Tax rates will be stable and conducive to growth, compliance and investment.
The UPA government is deeply committed, through tax and other policies, to the orderly development and functioning of capital markets that reflect the true fundamentals of the economy Financial markets will be deepened. FIIs will continue to be encouraged. Interest of small investors will be protected and they will be given new avenues for safe investment of their savings. SEBI would be further strengthened. Strictest action would be take against market manipulators and those who try to deliberately engineer market panic.
The UPA reiterates its abiding commitment to economic reforms that stimulates growth, investment and employment.
Further reforms are needed and will be carried out in agriculture, industry and services. The UPA's economic reforms will be oriented primarily to spreading and deepening rural prosperity, to significantly improving the quality of public systems and delivery of public services to bringing about a visible and tangible difference in the quality of life of ordinary citizens of our country.
DEFENCE, INTERNAL SECURITY:
The UPA government will ensure that all delays in the modernisation of the armed forces are eliminated and that all funds earmarked for modernisation are spent fully at the earliest.
The UPA will set up a new Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare in the Ministry of Defence. The long pending issue of one-rank, one-pension will be re-examined.
The UPA government will make the National Security Council professional and effective institution. It will appoint a full-time National Security Adviser.
The UPA has been concerned with the manner in which POTA has been grossly misused in the past two years. There will be no compromise in the fight against terrorism. But given the abuse of POTA that has taken place, the UPA government will repeal it while existing laws are enforced strictly.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY:
The UPA government will follow policies and introduce programmes that strengthen India's vast science and technology infrastructure. Science and technology development and application missions will be launched in key areas covering both global leadership and local transformation. The UPA government will mobilize the skills and expertise of Indian scientists, technologists and other professionals working abroad for institution-building and other projects in the country.
FOREIGN POLICY, INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS
The UPA government will give the highest priority to building closer political, economic and other ties with its neighbours in South Asia. Dialogue with Pakistan on all issues will be pursued systematically and on a sustained basis. The UPA will support peace talks in Sri Lanka that fulfil the legitimate aspirations of all linguistic and religious minorities within the territorial integrity and solidarity of Sri Lanka. Trade and investment with China will be expanded further and talks on the border issue pursued seriously. Relationships with East Asian countries will be intensified.
The UPA government will maintain the independence of India's foreign policy stance on all regional and global issues even as it pursues closer strategic and economic engagement with the USA.
The UPA government will fully protect the national interest, particularly of farmers, all WTO negotiations.
Commitment made earlier will be adhered to even as efforts are mounted to ensure that all agreements reflect our concerns fully. The UPA government will use the flexibility afforded in existing WTO agreements to fully protect Indian agriculture and industry.
A FINAL WORD
This is a common minimum programme (CMP) for the UPA government. It is, by no means, a comprehensive agenda. It is a starting point lists out the main priorities, policies and programmes. The UPA is committed to the implementation of the CMP. This CMP is the foundation for another CMP-collective maximum performance.