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New Delhi: Manifestos of the two major political parties are out and the flavor of the election is undoubtedly populist. On some issues, especially the populist ones, both the BJP and the Congress seem to be towing the same line. Days after the Congress promised rice and wheat for 3 rupees a kilo for those below poverty line, the BJP said it would do the same for a rupee less. Both parties pledge interest relief for farmers and infrastructure development for rural India. To the urban population, both promise low cost housing. But the stark contrast lies in the secular stance of the Congress vis-a-vis the BJP’s Hindutva agenda.
Some difference is also apparent in the two parties’ approach to fighting terror. The BJP thinks stern laws are the way out, while Congress believes that only a united India can fight terror. On foreign policy, the BJP has a more muscular approach centered around Pakistan, while the Congress says its policies are India-centric.
While the BJP is back to playing its Ram-card, the Congress has repeated its “aam Aadmi” slogan that helped it come to power in 2004. But experts say the populist route adopted by the two national parties may be the only way for them to gain ground lost to regional parties. And even as their allies keep dropping off, there’s one issue on which the two speak in one voice – and that is discounting the possibility of a Third Front government.