Following up on Sonia Gandhi's attempts to expand the party base ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the Jaipur declaration of the Congress today spoke of the rising educated and aspirational middle class and promised to create new opportunities for their advancement.
The 13-page 56 point Jaipur declaration committed itself to representing India's 'middle ground' of speaking for its vast majority and fighting against fringe elements that foster divisive and destructive ideologies.
"The Congress party is the party that is committed to science, modern technology, inclusive innovation and job creating growth for the youth of India.
"The Indian National Congress commits to strengthening its support base--identifying its natural supporters, retaining the support of these sections that are with the Congress and winning over those sections that have drifted away," the declaration said.
The reference to youth and creating jobs for them assumes significance in the context of Gandhi's address to the party's chintan shivir on Friday in which she underscored the need to respond to the "more aspirational and more impatient" youth and urban middle classes.
"The Indian National Congress also acknowledges the fact that there is a rising educated and aspirational middle class, especially in urban areas. We will continue to create new opportunities for them and a climate conducive to their advancement," the declaration said.
While rededicating itself to the cause of the poor and the marginalised like dalits, adivasis, minorities and OBCs, the party recognised that there is a new aspiration for advancement among the people, especially among the youth and the middle class.
"In addition, the Congress recognises that there is a new aspiration for advancement among the people, especially among the youth and the middle class.
"This itself is the result of the policies and programmes of the Congress and its governments. The Congress pledges to speak for both the young middle class India and the young deprived India.
"The party will be responsive to the new aspirations of the youth and will offer credible policies and programmes for them, especially job creating programmes," it said.
On political challenges, the declaration said the party will face the coming assembly elections this year and the Lok Sabha polls next year on the basis of the performance of the UPA government, the promise of stability and good governance and a restatement of its core values and ideology.
Secularism, nationalism, social justice, social cohesion and economic growth for all, especially the aam admi (common man) representing the poor and the middle classes form its core values.
"The Indian National Congress rejects the outdated ideologies and obscurantist philosophies of opposition parties and recommits itself to the principles of economic growth and social justice which have come to define the inclusive growth model of the Congress-led UPA government.
"It calls on all secular and progressive forces of the country to unite in this ideological battle against those who polarise and divide our society," the declaration said.
The declaration also said the Congress will continue to be at the forefront of fighting corruption at all levels, especially corruption at the bureaucratic and political levels.
Citing the passage of the Lokpal Bill in Lok Sabha, the declaration said Congress will also pursue vigorously an agenda for electoral and judicial reforms.
Reaffirming its commitment to good governance and delivery of services, the declaration urged the government to ensure a timely and effective implementation of the 'aapka paisa aapke haath' or Direct Benefit Transfer scheme so that benefits reach the people directly on time and eliminate corruption and leakages.
On emerging socio-economic challenges, the document said Congress believed that India stood at the threshold of great social advancement and economic prosperity.
"We hold an unwavering belief in the future of our country and to that end we have not allowed, and will not allow, economic growth to be undermined by vested interests. Our biggest socio-economic challenge is to ensure inclusive growth with jobs to reduce inequality."
The party acknowledged that rights of the minorities have not yet been fully secured and urged the government to make all efforts to protect the rights of the minorities, including equality before law and equal protection of laws.
The Congress pledged to create a business environment conducive to investment and entrepreneurship. "We must position India favourably to both domestic and foreign investors," it said.
The party believes that government must take initiatives that will create more incomes for farmers and create new opportunities for employment.
"One such initiative was the decision to allow foreign investment, besides domestic investment, in the retail sector," it said.