Party president Sonia Gandhi, vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh spoke about a wide range of issues and schemes which have been addressed in the manifesto. They also attacked the BJP's vision of 'one India' as against the Congress' ideology of a diverse yet inclusive India.
Sonia Gandhi also defended the candidature of Adarsh scam accused former Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan, saying that there was no law in India which could prevent him from contesting the elections.
Rahul Gandhi began his address by saying that the manifesto was the 'voice of the people of the country' and it aimed at fulfilling the aspirations of the poor, the middle class and the business fraternity as well. He said that the manifesto aimed at inclusive development benefiting all sections of society. Rahul Gandhi stressed on the role of the manifesto in developing ease of business and infrastructural development, both for business and for public use.
Dr Manmohan Singh said he believed the Congress manifesto underlined the party vision for growth and job creation in great detail. He said the UPA's agenda for growth was the best one and pointed out that economic growth rates had been much higher in the UPA regime (8.4% in UPA-1 and 7.3% in UPA-2) as opposed to those in the previous NDA government.
Dr Singh said that real growth addresses the needs of universal education, healthcare as well as the oppressed sections of society.
Sonia Gandhi then hailed the manifesto, saying it had been prepared after taking suggestions from people all over the country. She announced a special pension scheme for the disabled and said that the UPA had succeeded in providing economic assistance to Panchayati Raj institutions all over the country.
Ms Gandhi said that the UPA would continue to strive for an inclusive, secular and united India and would continue to adopt principles that support this ideology. She attacked the opposition BJP indirectly, saying that religion, caste or language should not matter in the betterment of the country.
MS Gandhi further stated that the 2014 elections are not just about good governance, but also about strengthening democracy and preserving the constitutional framework of the country.
Rahul Gandhi, in response to a question from the media, said that his newly instituted primaries system for selecting candidates might have flaws, but it was a fresh idea that needed examination. He also attacked BJP's PM candidate and Gujarat CM Narendra Modi, saying that the latter's mindset was damaging to the idea of India.
Gandhi provided the example of the India Shining campaign of the NDA government, which was thought of as a brilliant campaign, yet resulted in the defeat of the NDA in the 2004 elections. He said this happened because the BJP focussed on the well-being of only certain sections of society. According to Gandhi, only a partnership between the poor and business could help India on its path of development.
Dr Manmohan Singh defended the inflation record of his government, saying that price rise happened due to factors beyond control. He added that the government had been successful in managing the prices of essential commodities through an efficient PDS system over the last 10 years.
The Congress faces a difficult task heading into the general elections, with opinion polls showing a drubbing for the Congress, and BJP making big gains in the recent assembly polls in 4 states. However, Gandhi said that he did not believe in opinion polls as they do not reflect the truth.
Sonia Gandhi : Congress has always tried to live upto the expectations of the people of the nation pic.twitter.com/O4EtIwMKEF
— ANI (@ANI_news) March 26, 2014