Millennium Post

Will make office of NSA, NSC accountable to Parl: Cong

New Delhi: The Congress on Tuesday said if voted to power it will make the office of National Security Advisor as well as the National Security Council accountable to Parliament, and define their powers under the law.

In its 54-page Lok Sabha polls manifesto titled "Congress Will Deliver", the party also promised to establish the office of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) to be the principal adviser to the government on matters relating to defence.

"National security is dependent on a sound defence policy, a sound foreign policy and wise leadership. National security is not enhanced by chest-thumping or exaggerated claims," the Congress said, laying out its vision for the country's security.

The party asserted that it will reverse the "trend" of declining defence spending under the NDA government and ensure that it is increased to meet the requirements of the armed forces. "We will expedite all modernisation programmes of the armed forces in a transparent manner," the party said.

In its manifesto, the Congress promised to take "strategic and hard" measures to defend the territorial integrity of India and ensure the safety of the people.

"The Congress will provide a statutory basis to the National Security Council (NSC) and the office of National Security Adviser (NSA). Their powers and functions will be defined under the law and both authorities, and the agencies under them, will be accountable to Parliament," the manifesto said.

Alleging that the BJP government left the National Security Advisory Board in "limbo" between January 2015 and October 2016 and then "truncated" the body, the Congress promised to re-establish the NSAB, provide a statutory basis to the body, appoint experts from different disciplines, and ensure that it will function as a permanent, professional advisory body advising the NSC and the government.

The party also promised to rapidly expand domestic capacity to manufacture defence and security equipment. "We will create manufacturing capacities in the public sector and in pre-qualified, security-cleared private sector companies," it said. The party vowed to keep a vigilant eye on the security situation and take every measure that is required to maintain law and order and to provide a sense of security for every citizen. The Congress said it had put in place the Multi-Agency Centre and the NSG regional hubs and had also proposed to establish the National Counter-Terrorism Centre and NATGRID, alleging that the BJP government "dismantled the preparatory work and wasted five years". "The most serious threats to internal security emanate from terrorism, infiltration of militants, Maoism or Naxalism and caste or communal violence. The Congress believes that each of these threats deserves a separate and distinct response," the manifesto said. The grand old party promised an "uncompromising" approach and "hard measures" to put an end to terrorism and to the infiltration of militants. The Congress said it in the case of Maoism, it will resolutely fight violent activities, while also address developmental challenges in the areas concerned.

The party said it will enlist support of the people and win over the Maoist cadres.

The party asserted that in the case of caste or communal violence,it will put down such violence with a firm hand using the police forces at its command, apprehend the instigators and bring them to justice.

"There will be no room for self-appointed vigilante groups and moral policing brigades," the party said. The Congress promised to take strong action with respect to crimes against women, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minorities. It said the law will be applied on the perpetrators without fear or favour and they will not be allowed to walk on the streets with a sense of impunity. The Congress said it will hold the district administration responsible for riots, caste or communal violence, large scale crimes against women, and for the widespread breakdown of law and order.

It also promised to remove "anomalies" in the implementation of the One Rank One Pension scheme. The party also hit out at the Modi government's foreign policy in its manifesto, alleging that it has been reduced to "the whim of one man". "Our national interest has been the casualty. We promise to reverse these damaging developments and repose faith in our diplomatic corps to advise on, formulate and conduct foreign policy," the party said.

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