The idea was discussed at a party meeting on 13 July, but no decision yet on whether the proposal will find its way into the Congress manifesto.
New Delhi: The Congress is deliberating on whether to offer a major tax sop in its manifesto, as part of efforts to court the middle class in the 2019 general elections. The party’s top leadership is chewing over a proposal promising no income tax for those under the age of 35.
Although there has been no decision on whether the party will include the proposal in its manifesto, sources confirmed to ThePrint that the idea was discussed during a meeting of the Congress’ top leadership on 13 July.
“Nothing concrete has come out on that front but yes the idea to not tax those under 35 was briefly discussed at the meeting,” said a source.
The meeting was helmed by Priyanka Gandhi, who is managing the party’s strategy behind the scenes.
The Congress reasons that the move will also appeal to younger voters, a population demographic that the party believes will be electorally vital come 2019. It estimates that around 15 million first-time voters will cast their votes in next year’s Parliamentary polls.
The argument for the move within the Congress is that it will promote entrepreneurship and allow the younger population to dabble with new businesses, which in turn will lead to the generation of new jobs.
Eye on young voters
The proposal is in line with the party’s efforts to tap into younger voters. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress manifesto had promised jobs for youths within 100 days, if the party was voted to power.
“Today, two-thirds of Indians, nearly 80 crore Indians, are below 35 years of age. Getting well paying, decent jobs or entrepreneurship opportunities as they enter working age, is their number one priority,” read the Congress manifesto of 2014. “While a number of steps have been taken in this direction in the last decade, this remains an overriding national priority, requiring a lot more to be done. The Indian National Congress will announce a Jobs Agenda within 100 days of the government.”
The 80 crore Indians, the Congress talked about in 2014, still remain a top priority for the party and the 2019 manifesto could spell out attractive measures for them. In that respect, the idea of an income tax exemption may prove a game changer if the Congress decides to give it space in the party manifesto.
Preparations begin early
The deliberations on various proposals come as the Congress is looking at preparing its manifesto way ahead of the 2019 elections.
The party will use crowd-sourcing as a major tool to formulate its poll document.
The Congress had earlier held meetings with different population groups during the Gujarat and Karnataka assembly elections when it was preparing its manifestos then.
A similar exercise is expected to be carried out nationwide in the coming few months. Sources told ThePrint that the responsibility will be handed to Sam Pitroda, chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress, who had worked on the Gujarat and Karnataka election manifestos.