Farmers, poor, national security central focus of BJP’s manifesto3 min read . Updated: 09 Apr 2019, 01:07 AM IST
- The party believes its proposals will transform India into a $5 trillion economy by 2025 and $10 trillion economy by 2032
- According to Modi, the manifesto was crowdsourced based on feedback from at least 60 million people
NEW DELHI : The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released its election manifesto on Monday, with a central focus on its promise to empower the poor, double farm incomes in the next three years and continue to show zero tolerance to corruption and terrorism.
Releasing the manifesto at the BJP party office in Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it would approach last-mile delivery on a mission mode to transform India into a developed country by 2047—the 100th anniversary of independence.
Both in terms of form and substance, the BJP manifesto has undergone a makeover. Unlike in 2014, this time the manifesto and the campaign have been developed around Modi—noticeably missing on the dais were the party veterans, including Murli Manohar Joshi, who had authored the previous manifesto. Particular care has also been taken to address key political challenges such as agrarian distress—something that contributed to the party’s defeat in the last round of assembly elections in December—and calibrating the ambitions of transforming India.
Surprisingly, the manifesto or the Sankalp Patra of the party does not specifically commit to a number on job creation, but instead implies that this would be the outcome of an ecosystem that the party would provide if re-elected. New measures to spawn entrepreneurs include interest-free loans of up to ₹50 lakh and creating a fund of ₹20,000 crore to encourage startups, with a special focus on women, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and economically weaker sections.
Some of the key promises of BJP in the manifesto are on improving the rural economy, with a promise to spend ₹25 trillion in the next five years. At the same time, it has committed to double the highway network in the next five years.
The party believes its proposals will transform India into a $5 trillion economy by 2025 and $10 trillion economy by 2032.
According to Modi, the manifesto was crowdsourced based on feedback from at least 60 million people.
“The party has decided that it would come back to people to give its record of work in 2022, when India celebrates its 75 years of independence," Modi said. “We have decided to take 75 steps that are time-bound and well-defined that will be achieved by 2022. "
BJP also used the opportunity to reiterate its commitment for the early construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, passage of the citizenship amendment bill in Parliament and implementation of a uniform civil code in the country. The three controversial issues have been a cause of concern for the party as it has been under pressure from several organizations affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to deliver on them.
Senior BJP leaders said the manifesto was of a party which is in government and reflected its track record in office.
“The 2014 election was about hope. BJP-NDA (National Democratic Alliance) gave a highly performing government and the manifesto is in continuation of the work done by the government," said finance minister Arun Jaitley. “PM Modi gave resources to the poor and we are determined to bring poverty down to single digits and then elimination of poverty."
BJP has promised to create a separate water ministry, offer interest-free loans to farmers and expand its existing PM Kisan scheme of giving ₹6,000 annually to all farmers; at the moment it is limited to small and marginal farmers.
“We want to spend ₹25 lakh crore for rural India in the next five years and double farm income by 2022," said home minister Rajnath Singh, who headed the manifesto committee.
The 2019 general elections are crucial for BJP as NDA has never managed to return to power consecutively and the party is hopeful of creating history by returning to power for a consecutive term.
The Congress accused BJP of failing to answer questions on its record in power. “After we presented our manifesto, we held a detailed question and answer session. Immediately after BJP presented its manifesto, all of their leaders went home without even taking a single question. No answers on their five years?," tweeted senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel.
“In the manifesto, BJP has promised pension for small traders, which is an attempt to retain its traditional voters’ base that was impacted by demonetization and implementation of the goods and services tax," said A.K. Verma, a Kanpur-based political analyst and political science professor at Christ Church College.