The Bhartiya Janta Party’s election manifesto – released on Monday jointly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party president Amit Shah, Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley – has several new features.
Instead of the election document being called a manifesto, the BJP called it a ‘Sankalp Patra’ (‘Pledge’ or a ‘Resolution Document’).
“The other parties have brought out manifestoes while we have released a pledge document. We are committed towards fulfilling the pledges we have taken,” said Sushma Swaraj at the manifesto release event.
One visible change in party’s election document is the cover itself. In 2014, the cover of the manifesto had Modi, then a prime ministerial aspirant, flanked by then chief ministers of BJP governed states and party stalwarts – Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani, Rajnath Singh and Murli Manohar Joshi. Five years later, there’s no space for anyone but Modi, pointing to the shift in the party’s power structure and that the party is still banking on just Modi’s image.
Here are the key promises the BJP is making through its ‘Sankalp Patra’ –
In the beginning of his term as PM, Modi had promised to double farm income by 2022. The promise has found a formal mention in the BJP’s manifesto now.
The party has promised to enable the creation of 10,000 new Farmer Producer Organizations and provide short-term new agriculture loans up to Rs 1 lakh at 0% interest rate for 1-5 years on the condition of prompt repayment of the principal amount.
The party, if voted to power again, has pledged to launch a pension scheme for small and marginal farmers to ensure social security after 60 years of age.
Jammu & Kashmir – Article 370
The BJP has — once again — promised to annul Article 370 and 35A. Article 35A of Constitution accords Kashmir’s permanent residents some special rights and privileges. With regard to Article 370, it says, “We reiterate our position since the time of Jan Sangh to the abrogation of Artcile 370.”
The party has acknowledged that Article 35A is discriminatory towards the women of J&K.
Citizenship Amendment Bill
Unfazed by the criticism of the Citizenship Bill in different parts of the Northeast, the BJP has promised to go ahead with it. The party, however, promises to reach out to people who have raised concerns over the said bill.
The party promises to expeditiously complete the National Registration of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and actively consider its extension to other states.
Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs escaping persecution from India’s neighbouring countries will be given citizenship in India.
The saffron party seems to have toned down its pitch for the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, from saying “Mandir wahin banayenge” to “evaluating all options and working towards its construction in a peaceful atmosphere”.
One of the key mention is to achieve the goal of Clean Ganga by 2022.
Hoping to consolidate votes of the Hindus – Sabarimala in Kerala – which has remained in the news for several months now, makes entry into the BJP manifesto for the very first time.
The BJP has has vowed to work towards introducing 33% reservation in Parliament and state assemblies through a constitutional amendment.
The promise, however, needs to be taken with a pinch of salt as the party has not provided tickets to 33% women.
One significant promise made by the BJP for women is providing sanitary napkins at Rs 1.
The party has also reiterated its resolve to outlaw Triple Talaq.
Creating Opportunities for Youth
The manifesto says, “We will create new opportunities of employment by providing more support to the 22 major ‘Champion Sectors’ identified as the main drivers of Indian economy. We will optimally leverage the untapped employment generation of potential sectors such as defence and pharmaceuticals to take advantage of the opportunities available in domestic and foreign markets. We will also take a number of steps to encourage the spirit of entrepreneurship amongst the youth.”
The BJP promises to launch a new scheme to provide collateral-free credit up to Rs 50 lakh for entrepreneurs.
The BJP promises Rs 100 lakh crore investment in the infrastructure sector.
The party aims at full railway electrification by 2024.
The ruling party plans to build 60,000 km of national highways, connect 100 per cent of villages with rural roads, operationalise 100 new airports, modernise 400 railway stations and cover 50 cities with metro networks.
The manifesto promises to set up one medical college or post-graduate medical college in every district, through public or private participation, by 2024. It further says 75 new medical colleges will be opened by 2022.