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2019 LS polls 'watershed election', results to decide future of Indian democracy: Ashwani

2019 LS polls 'watershed election', results to decide future of Indian democracy: Ashwani

Chandigarh, Apr 4 (PTI) Senior Congress leader Ashwani Kumar Thursday described the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as "watershed election", saying its outcome will determine the quality and future of India's democracy. "... the choice before the nation is clear, that is between freedom and fear, inclusion and exclusion, tolerance and intolerance, justice and injustice, and between equality and inequality," he told a news conference here."This election is a watershed election, the outcome of which will determine the quality and future of India's democracy. Congress party is fighting this election to safeguard the fundamental values of the Republic," he said. The former Union minister also elaborated upon the Congress party's poll manifesto, which was released recently."In order to prove and credibly establish that Congress will deliver on its promise of a 'liberal, free and just' society, we have in our manifesto included a comprehensive programme of action for the empowerment of the vulnerable, marginalised, farmers, children, the aged, youth and women," he said. With the BJP seeking to corner the Congress over its poll promise of reviewing AFSPA and repealing the sedition law, Kumar asserted that the "nation's security had always been above everything else for the Congress".The former law minister also hit out at the NDA-led Centre over its "idea of patriotism". "... to pit every constitutional and democratic ideal against invented insecurities of the nation is wholly dishonest and does not behove the ruling party to present itself as the only protector of India's security," he said. Kumar said the BJP raising the pitch on Congress' AFSPA promise was "an admission of their failure to come out with an alternative narrative, a narrative different from the Congress' one". "We have highest respect for our armed forces, highest respect for the difficulties they face, but in cases where there are specific individual instances, where power has been misused, to prevent that, it (AFSPA review) is necessary...," he said. The Congress, in its manifesto, has promised to review the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir, and repeal section 124A (sedition law) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). AFSPA gives the armed forces certain protection from legal action in carrying out their operations in disturbed areas."This manifesto is Congress party's counter narrative, this manifesto commits itself to India's security, to solving the Kashmir problem, raising defence budget, fight against terrorism. It has said that leaders who lost their lives to terrorism from Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Beant Singh... So, Congress party is not to take lesson on fighting terrorism from the BJP," the Congress leader said. "Also, to say (in the manifesto) that we will decriminalise offences against farmers is a path-breaking idea, to say we will spend 6 per cent of our GDP on education and 3 per cent on health is path breaking. These are the programmes that concern and impact the everyday lives of people of this country. This is the Congress party's alternative narrative," he added.PTI SUN SRY