In India, the governing Congress Party has unveiled its election platform, as
the country heads for national elections starting next month. The party is
promising to push economic growth and has confirmed that Prime Minister
the government, if it is returned to power.
Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh says his Congress Party will ensure more inclusive and equitable growth,
if it wins the upcoming general elections. The promise followed the release of
the Congress Party campaign platform.
With an eye on the country's poor
voters, Mr. Singh says the party will ensure the benefits of a growing economy
spread to the underprivileged and minorities.
Mr. Singh says, despite the
current slowdown, the country has never seen the kind of robust economic growth
witnessed in the last five years, when his party led the government.
world is in trouble. But, even today after China, India is the second most
important faster growing country. It is our challenge to maintain that
position," he said.
The party pledges several populist measures, such as
a subsidized food plan to protect poor people from the global slowdown. Millions
of Indians earn less than two dollars a day.
Congress Party head Sonia
Gandhi dismisses speculation that the party might opt for another prime minister
and says Mr. Singh will head the next government, if her party is returned to
Seventy-eight-year-old Prime Minister Singh recently underwent
heart surgery, triggering some reports that he would not want another term. Some
party leaders had also said that Sonia Gandhi's son, Rahul Gandhi, should be the
party's choice for prime minister.
Mrs. Gandhi says her party is the
only party in the country that has national presence. Her assessment comes at a
time when several regional parties have formed an alliance to challenge her
She says her party has a truly national vision and has always
fought for a secular, democratic and socially just country.
Congress Party's main challenger is an alliance led by the opposition Hindu
nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. But political analysts say regional parties
will also play a more prominent role in this election.
staggered elections will start April 16. Vote counting will be held a month
later, after the five-phase polls are held through the vast country.