Cong released its manifesto for Lok Sabha Elections 2019. Extracts of promises concerning defence forces and ex-servicemen are given herewith:
National security is dependent on a sound defence policy, a sound foreign policy, and wise leadership. National security is not enhanced by chest-thumping or exaggerated claims.
Congress will reverse the trend of declining defence spending under the NDA government, and will ensure that defence spending is increased to meet the requirements of the Armed Forces. We will expedite all modernisation programmes of the armed forces in a transparent manner.
Congress promises to take strategic and hard measures to defend the territorial integrity of India and ensure the safety of our people.
The concept of national security in the 21st century has expanded beyond defence of the territory to include data security, cyber security, financial security, communication security and security of trade routes. Congress promises to evolve suitable policies to address each of these subjects.
Congress will establish the office of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) to be the principal adviser to the Government on matters relating to defence.
Congress will provide a statutory basis to the National Security Council (NSC) and the office of National Security Adviser (NSA). Their powers and functions will be defined under the law and both authorities, and the agencies under them, will be accountable to Parliament.
The BJP government left the National Security Advisory Board in limbo between January 2015 and October 2016 and then truncated the body. Congress will re-establish the NSAB, provide a statutory basis to the body, appoint experts from different disciplines and ensure that it will function as a permanent, professional advisory body advising the NSC and the government.
Congress promises to rapidly expand domestic capacity to manufacture defence and security equipment. We will create manufacturing capacities in the public sector and in pre-qualified, security-cleared private sector companies.
Congress promises that it will keep a vigilant eye on the security situation and take every measure that is required to maintain law and order and to provide a sense of security for every citizen and for every visitor to India.
The key to internal security is intelligence, analysis and quick response. Congress had put in place the Multi-Agency Centre and the NSG regional hubs. Congress had also proposed to establish the National Counter-Terrorism Centre and NATGRID. The BJP government dismantled the preparatory work and wasted 5 years. NCTC was put in the cold storage and NATGRID is yet to be made operational. Congress promises that NCTC will be set up within 3 months and NATGRID will be made operational by December 2019.
The most serious threats to internal security emanate from (1) terrorism, (2) infiltration of militants, (3) Maoism or Naxalism and (4) caste or communal violence. Congress believes that each of these threats deserves a separate and distinct response.
We promise an uncompromising approach and hard measures to put an end to terrorism and to the infiltration of militants.
In the case of Maoism, the Congress will resolutely fight violent activities. At the same time, Congress will address developmental challenges in the areas concerned, enlist the support of the people and win over the Maoist cadres.
In the case of caste or communal violence, Congress will put down such violence with a firm hand using the police forces at its command, apprehend the instigators and bring them to justice. There will be no room for self-appointed vigilante groups and moral policing brigades.
Congress will work with State Governments to increase the strength of State police forces, fill all vacancies, equip and train them, and deploy them impartially to maintain law and order and to detect and punish violators and instigators.
Congress promises to take strong action with respect to crimes against women, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minorities. The law will be applied on the perpetrators without fear or favour. They will not be allowed to walk on the streets with a sense of impunity.
Congress will hold the District Administration responsible for riots, caste or communal violence, large scale crimes against women, and for the widespread breakdown of law and order.
Foreign tourist arrival in India in 2018 is estimated at about 1 crore. Comparing this number with the numbers of comparable countries, it indicates substantial under-performance. Congress will take measures to achieve an annual growth of 20 per cent in tourist arrivals.
Tourism is important for many reasons, the most important being its capacity to create jobs for people with different levels of education.
Congress promises a special tax regime for tourism-related businesses and income.
We will establish an adequately capitalised Tourism Development Bank to provide low-cost, long-term funds for investment in tourism-related businesses.
Congress will work with State Governments to provide, and improve, the infrastructure in and around places of tourist interest.
Congress will work with State Governments to create young volunteer groups to guide and assist visitors at important places of tourist interest.
India’s Missions abroad will be tasked with encouraging more visitors to India from the country to which each Mission is accredited.
Visa-on-Arrival Scheme will be expanded to include more countries and more categories of visitors. No fee will be charged for tourist visas for a period of 3 years.
India’s borders must be secure. Secure borders protect the sovereignty and integrity of India.
Congress promises to enhance border security by undertaking a number of measures.
We will increase the strength of border guarding forces — BSF, SSB, ITBP and Assam Rifles — and post them on or close to the border to prevent infiltration, illegal immigration and smuggling.
We will construct modern, well-equipped Integrated Border Outposts to provide good working and living conditions for the forces. The distance between 2 border outposts will be reduced. The period of posting in high altitude border outposts will be reduced to 3 months at a time.
We will accelerate the construction of border roads along all borders of India, especially, the India-China border. We will enhance the capacity of the Border Roads Organisation and create separate divisions to build roads along the India-China and the India-Myanmar borders.
Under the UPA Governments, Congress accepted the principle of One Rank One Pension (OROP) and took 3 steps in 2006, 2010 and 2013 towards implementing the same. In February 2014, the UPA Government decided to close the gap for all retirees in all ranks. Ex-servicemen believe that the BJP Government has not implemented OROP to their satisfaction. Congress promises to remove the anomalies in the implementation of OROP.
Congress promises to formulate and implement a policy of compensation to the families of martyrs that will include full pay and allowances, funding children’s education, a government job for a member of the martyr’s family and suitable monetary compensation.
Congress will formulate and implement a policy that will allow Armed Forces personnel, who retire after a period of colour service or earlier, lateral entry into the civil services based on their qualifications.
We will also allow Armed Forces personnel who retire before the age of 40 years to enter the Central Armed Police Forces at suitable levels based on their qualifications and physical fitness.
Congress promises to substantially expand the capacity of the Armed Forces medical corps and hospitals to cater to the needs of ex-servicemen and their families.
Congress will revise the procedure to determine the disability of injured armed forces personnel and make the determination final subject to an appeal only at the instance of the disabled person. All pending appeals filed by the Ministry of Defence will be withdrawn.
The Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) are our first line of defence at our borders. They are also the force of choice when there is a breakdown of law and order. Thousands of jawans have sacrificed their lives in the discharge of their duties. Congress promises to enhance the capabilities of the force and to improve the welfare of our jawans.
We will increase the strength of the CAPFs to meet the growing requirements of border security and internal security
At any given time, an adequate number of battalions will be on rest, recuperation and training and will not be deployed on operational duties.
Congress promises to ensure increased representation of women to achieve a minimum of 33 per cent in the force strength of CISF, CRPF and BSF. Every effort will be made to induct more women into the other border guarding forces, namely, ITBP, SSB and Assam Rifles.
We will enhance the facilities of health, education and housing for the personnel of the CAPFs and their families to bring them on par with the facilities provided for the Armed Forces. We will set up schools on the model of Sainik schools to enhance educational opportunities for their children.
Congress promises to enhance the status of the jawan and the benefits to the families of jawans in cases were the jawan dies in action.
We will set up a Committee to draft new Service Rules for personnel of the CAPFs.