LUCKNOW: An accent on youth and technology, with a big Rahul Gandhi poster dominating a crowded stage. A focus on education and health, minority quota, better law and order.
A counter to the BJP's promise of building a Ram temple in Ayodhya by saying "stick to the court order on the Babri Masjid."
So where are the freebies in the Congress' UP manifesto? the Union Minister, Mr Kapil Sibal put it succinctly when he said in Lucknow today, "Just vote us back after this 23-year exile. You'll get everything."
The Congress promises a school in every village, one intermediate college for every 2,500 families, residential schools for the very backward, and 500 model schools. The 20 lakh jobs that its vision statement released last week envisaged. It also promises doctors available at walking distance for all, upgraded district hospitals, a health lokpal (ombudsman) at the state level to ensure implementation of health schemes.
In fact, there will be focus on full and timely implementation of the UPA government's policies – that includes the 4.5 per cent sub-quota for backward minorities that the Centre has pushed through. The party also promises to explore the idea of having a sub quota for very backward Dalits.
Clean UP is the mantra and the Congress says that does not only mean physical cleanliness. It promises action against the corrupt and says it will bring the Chief Minister under the Lokayukta.
So no free or cheap laptops for UP's students, a la the BJP or Samajwadi Party? No, says Mr Sibal, "we would rather provide the information highway." Fittingly, the Congress pulled out technology man Sam Pitroda to accompany Mr Sibal at the party's UP manifesto launch.
"We are a nation of a connected billion. We are now making connected universities and are connecting 250,000 panchayats. Technology will play an important part in UP too," said Mr Sam Pitroda, who is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's technology and innovation adviser and was a prominent part of the team that gave shape to Rajiv Gandhi's technology dreams.
The Minister and the man in charge of the party's manifesto drafting committee Mr Salman Khurshid came late, blamed his helicopter and said the right men – Mr Pitroda and Mr Sibal – were there as the manifesto is focused on education.