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India's Governing Congress Party Unveils Election Platform


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 will head 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.

"The 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 power.

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 party.

She says her party has a truly national vision and has always fought for a secular, democratic and socially just country.

The 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.

The month-long 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.

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