Comparing the 2024 Lok Sabha Election Manifestos from the perspective of Technology Rights and Gig Workers

On April 19th, the first phase of the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections commenced in various states such as Tamil Nadu, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.1 In pursuance of the same, political parties like the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), Indian National Congress (INC), Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) have recently released their manifestos. Typically, election manifestos serve as a blueprint that highlight the motivations, aims and promises of a political party to the public.2 In this blog post, we will compare the election manifestos of the above mentioned parties in relation to technology rights and impact on gig workers.

Technology Rights

In K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India, the Supreme Court recognized the fundamental right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.3 Drawing from this judgement, INC, CPI(M) and DMK have focused their attention towards the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023 (DPDPA). INC and CPI(M) have taken a step further by recognizing the need to ensure that fundamental rights to freedom of speech and expression, and privacy are not diluted.4 INC has claimed that it will review the DPDPA and Telecommunications Act for provisions that are violative of such rights.5 Apart from the issue of privacy, DMK has also promised to remove Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) on sedition on account of being misused to curb free speech and expression by the Union Government.6

CPI(M) has promised to not consider the draft on Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill whereas INC has promised its withdrawal.8 According to the former, such enactments are not only violative of Fundamental Rights but have an authoritarian and draconian character.9 They have also promised to withdraw provisions of the Telecommunications Act, 2023 that could further surveillance and interception, internet shutdowns, weakening of encrypted services, and KYC requirements of social media users.10 Importantly, both INC and CPI(M) recognize that such law provides the government or the State with an expansive amount of discretion to exempt themselves from accountability towards citizens’ right to privacy.11

Notably, the BJP manifesto does not address any of such issues raised by its counterparts. The BJP manifesto focuses broadly on the advancement of the digital public infrastructure (‘DPI’) to protect the social security of Indian citizens. They claim that the citizens have been empowered through ‘new-age technology’ like optic fibre connections, digital solutions and drones.12 Placing emphasis on digital literacy, they will organize proper training and education for the safe usage of UPI services by senior citizens.13 In addition, BJP has promised to build separate DPI to support farmers and reduce information asymmetry in the agriculture industry.14 However, they will rely on the existing DPI to support the economic growth of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).15 They will undertake strict measures against entities that threaten the safety of citizens on the internet.16

Gig Workers

For gig workers, INC and CPI(M) have promised to formulate a law that specifies and protects their rights as well as for other unorganized workers.17 On the other hand, BJP aims to achieve greater integration between social security rights and DPI – through the utilization of the post office and Digital India network.18 The goal is to provide comprehensive insurance coverage and ensure easy enrollment and seamless payment through digital technologies.19 Furthermore, they will collaborate with platforms for the registration of gig workers on e-Shram platform.20

A tabular representation of positions on various aspects of technology rights and gig workers by the INC, BJP, DMK, and CPI(M) is provided hereinunder:

Party Name





Data Protection

  • Due to inadequate parliamentary scrutiny, laws pertaining to workers, farmers, criminal justice, environment & forests and digital data protection, will be thoroughly reviewed and changed.
  • We promise to review all laws that interfere with the right to privacy and make suitable amendments to various laws to uphold the right to privacy


  • Amendments will be made within the DPDPA to include digital rights as fundamental human rights.
  • The Digital Personal Data Protection Act (2023) could lead to digital authoritarianism as it provides the State with broad powers of surveillance over citizens and also big businesses a free hand to use citizens data for their own profits.
  • The DPDPA will be replaced by a legislation that will be based on a proper justiciable framework as per the K.S. Puttuswamy judgement on privacy as a fundamental right.
  • Enact a new legislation that will establish an independent constitutional authority to monitor violations by government as well as private businesses of citizens‟ right to privacy.

Internet Shutdowns

  • Congress will pass a law to preserve the freedom of the Internet and to prevent arbitrary and frequent shutdowns of the Internet.
  • Removal of the draconian provisions of the Telecommunications Act 2023 related to internet shutdowns.


  • Many new laws (e.g. the Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023; Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023; Press and Registration of Periodicals Act, 2023, etc.) give unbridled powers of censorship to the government. The first named Bill will be withdrawn. The restrictive provisions of the two Acts will be amended or deleted to eliminate backdoor censorship.
  • Congress will amend the Cinematograph Act, 1952 to provide that the Central Board of Film Certification grants graded certificates to according to transparent and reasonable criteria.
  • Repealing Section 124A of the IPC as it has diluted freedom of speech and expression.
  • Withdrawal of the draconian IT Amendment Rules (2023) as it grants the government with extensive powers to censor; establish a fact check unit at the discretion of the Union government.
  • Withdrawal of the 2021 amendments to the IT Rules will
  • Review of the draft Registration of Press and Periodicals Bill, 2022.
  • The draft Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023 will not be considered.


  • We will review the Telecommunications Act, 2023 and remove the provisions that restrict freedom of speech and expression and that violate the right to privacy.
  • Promise to expand the 5G telecom networks and to lead in the development of 6G technology.
  • Removal of the draconian provisions of the Telecommunications Act 2023 related to surveillance and interception, weakening of encrypted services, and KYC requirements of social media users.
  • Promise to reverse pro-private telecom policies to encourage telecom and internet penetration in rural and remote areas via public sector; strengthening public sector telecom companies BSNL and MTNL by guaranteeing a level playing field and rapid roll-out of 4G and 5G services. Ensuring the right to internet; developing national self-reliance in communication equipment manufacturing.


  • Congress will defend independent journalism by enacting laws to protect journalists from coercive action by the State. This includes restricting the powers of the government for surveillance of journalists, seizure of their devices and exposure of their sources. 
  • Appointments to surveillance organizations will be made by a nomination committee, with 50% of members being representatives from various states.
  • De-militarisation of cyber-space; protection from cyber-attacks and phishing; protection of the privacy of all individuals and prevention of snooping and surveillance over individuals.
  • Stop all forms of digital surveillance by State agencies without explicit and specific warrants and under strict judicial supervision; prevent use of malware, hacking or other intrusive technologies such as Pegasus to gain control over citizens‟ phones, computers and other digital devices.
  • Taking Internet governance out of US control to an appropriate international body; promoting a people-centric internet which builds on social justice and free from control of global corporations; promoting a global internet regime that protects the right to privacy and does not allow mass surveillance by either governments.


  • We will encourage and support the use of Artificial Intelligence, robotics, etc. which will create new and frontline jobs. At the same time, we will ensure that there are more job opportunities in sectors that use conventional technology.
  • We will leverage Big Data analytics, artificial intelligence, drones and satellite imagery to detect and dismantle drug trafficking networks effectively
  • Provide requisite mission-mode R&D funding for identified sectors of the “4th Industrial Revolution” such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), bio and nano-technology etc; also focus on agricultural research to break monopolies of MNCs and enable climate-resilient agriculture/horticulture.
  • Regulate AI, genetic engineering, data-mining and IT-based surveillance so as to ensure public good.
  • Promote free and open source software (FOSS) and other new technologies, free from monopoly ownership through copyrights or patents; “knowledge commons” to be promoted across disciplines eg like biotechnology, AI and drug discovery.
  • Recognise digital infrastructure as public infrastructure to be used for public good.


  • The concept of national security in the 21st century has expanded beyond defence of the territory to include hybrid warfare, data security, cyber security, financial security, communication security and security of trade routes. Congress will evolve suitable policies to address each of these subjects.
  • Online courses and digital learning have gained importance. We will ensure that all students of classes IX to XII have mobile phones to ensure equitable access to learning. We will provide free and unlimited Internet on college and school campuses to increase accessibility and connectivity.
  • We will assist state governments to establish state-of-the-art Internet-enabled public libraries in state, district and taluk headquarters. 
  • Ensuring thorough implementation of the ‘One Nation, One Student ID’ through the Automated Permanent Academic Account Registry (APAAR). The registry will be used to record academic qualifications, credit scores and certificates, among others for students from pre-primary to higher education.
  • Providing training to senior citizens for using UPI and other online payment methods.
  • Promise to maintain digital sovereignty of the nation and take strict measures against entities that threaten the safety of citizens on the internet.
  • Develop the BharatNet project to provide every village with broadband, and increasing access to high-speed internet.
  • Share the technology behind the DPI with partner countries.
    Development of a separate DPI for farmers to mitigate information asymmetry in the agriculture industry.
  • Development of digital university for free industry-focused education to provide up-skilling opportunities to people belonging to economically vulnerable backgrounds.
  • Creation of a Digital Tribal Arts Academy  to foster tribal art forms.
  • Development of a bundle of public cybersecurity products to enable small traders and MSMEs to protect themselves against cyber threats.
  • Creation of Digital Land Records system.
  • An ISRO technology park will be established in the Sathankulam area to provide employment opportunities for the youth.
  • Technologies like GPS-based automated train safety, Automatic Train Protection (ATP), Communication-Based Train Control (CBTC), and GPS based tracking will be utilized across India to prevent rail accidents and ensure the safety of passengers.
  • Customized curricula with modern technologies will be provided for children with disabilities.
  • College students will receive a free SIM card with One GB data per month.
  • Strengthen the Competition Commission of India to be able to effectively curb
    and regulate the power of telecom and digital monopolies.
  • Proactive initiative to bring more IT jobs and technological growth to Tier-II and Tier-III cities without compromising workers’ rights; boosting IT hardware and component production; introduction of state-owned IT companies to digitize all departments and their services; developing rules to regulate algorithms, AI/ML, and other emerging technologies with the goal of democratizing their benefits to the public.
  • Recognise digital infrastructure as public infrastructure to be used for public good.
  • Restricting private monopolies in essential infrastructure sectors, including ports-to-power conglomerates, data storage and handling; building a strong public sector data infrastructure to secure Indian citizens’ sovereign data and implementing policies to limit the free use of personal data by private corporations.
  • Introduction of public sector digital platform services to break the monopoly of global corporations like Amazon, Uber, Zomato, etc; ensuring systematic government support and protection for indigenous start-ups and cooperatives in the expanding digital economy

Gig Workers

  • Promised to develop a law to specify and protect the rights of gig workers and unorganized workers to enhance their social security.
  • Through the successful implementation of social security insurance schemes like PM Jeevan Bima and Suraksha Bima for unorganised workers. It has been promised that all such schemes shall be integrated into the post office and Digital India network.
  • This will be utilized to provide comprehensive social security cover for accident and life insurance.
    In addition, they have assured that digital technologies will enable  easy enrollment and seamless payment.
  • They are planning to collaborate with platforms for the registration of gig workers on e-Shram platform.
  • Enactment of a law that will effectively govern the working conditions of
    gig workers as well as those working remotely.
  • Ensuring
    that IT & ITES workers are covered under labour laws.

Way ahead:

As the 18th Lok Sabha Elections are underway, more than 968 million citizens are expected to vote till the polling ends on June 1st, 2024.21 With a burgeoning population, the incoming government will have to pay attention to the growing intersection of technology rights and citizens lives. There is heavy impetus placed on increasing digitalization of citizens’ lives. However, the pace of innovation should not exceed the existence of guardrails under law. The proposed manifestos shed light on the areas of focus for the contesting political parties. Regardless of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the landscape for technology rights and the gig economy in India is sure to significantly transform. 


1 For the full schedule, see Election Commission of India, Press Note, March 16th, 2024,, page 59.

2 What are election manifestos and their significance to the polling process, The Economic Times (last updated April 5th, 2024, 09:09 pm IST)

3 Justice K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India (2017) 10 SCC 1.

5 INC, ibid, page 21.

7 INC (n 4) page 21.

8 INC (n 4) page 23; CPI(M) (n 4) page 42.

9 CPI(M) (n 4) page 41-2.

10 Ibid.

11 Ibid

13 Ibid page 20.

14 Ibid page 24.

15 Ibid page 30-1.

16 Ibid page 39.

17 INC, (n 4) page 20,28; CPI(M), (n 4) page 27.

19 Ibid page 20.

20 Ibid page 28-9.

21 Press Information Bureau Delhi, Largest electorate for General Elections – over 96.88 crore electors registered across the country (February 9th, 2024 at 4:26PM)

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