The BJP’s manifesto, Sankalp Patra, for 2019 Lok Sabha election puts terrorism and national security as PM Narendra Modi’s topmost priority in a re-election bid. It promises to double farmers’ income by 2022, reduce tax rates, implement the contentious Uniform Civil Code, and abrogate both Article 370 and Article 35A.
ThePrint asks: Is BJP manifesto strong enough to make voters bring back Narendra Modi in May 2019?
Modi govt has kept most of the promises it made in 2014
Gopal Krishna Agarwal
National spokesperson, BJP
There are a number of significant and new points that the 2019 BJP manifesto brings to the table. For one, we are promising a zero per cent interest rate for short-term new agriculture loans up to Rs 1 lakh, making it easier for farmers to access loans. We have also promised to double farmers’ income by 2022.
We also have important promises for the middle class of the country. For the traders, we are setting up the National Traders’ Commission; while for small shopkeepers, we will include them in a new scheme: the Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-dhan.
There is a clear-cut 75-step roadmap on how the country’s infrastructure will be improved in the coming years. All these are highly significant promises, and we are certain the voters will take note.
It is unfair to say that the Modi government hasn’t fulfilled promises made in 2014. Most of the promises made have been kept. For instance, we promised a crackdown on corruption, and we have implemented measures to ensure corruption is curbed. The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, improved recovery of bad loans, an increase in the number of taxpaying citizens and greater transparency when it comes to indirect taxes are only some of the steps we have taken to ensure a healthier democracy.
Some of the points in the manifesto are a reiteration of our previous commitments. These include the abrogation of Article 370, commitment to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, National Register of Citizens and the Uniform Civil Code. We are already heading towards successfully implementing these.
Many points in BJP manifesto a repeat of promises made in the past
Member, Congress party and ex-World Bank member
The BJP manifesto for 2019 seems like a damp squib. This is a low energy manifesto probably because PM Narendra Modi feels that the BJP should not draw attention to more promises, when it failed to live up to the high expectations it set in 2014.
A lot of the points in the BJP manifesto are a regurgitation of promises it has made in the past. Article 370 has featured in every BJP manifesto since 1984. The promise of pension to traders was a part of its 2009 manifesto. Similarly, the pledge to build the Ram Mandir finds a mention in every BJP manifesto.
It is also quite pertinent that none of the senior BJP members – not even PM Modi – spoke about creating jobs. The reality is that not only has the BJP failed to create two crore jobs each year as it had promised in 2014, but the NSSO data also confirmed that unemployment was at a 45-year high in 2017-2018; so the BJP destroyed existing jobs as well.
The BJP manifesto promises an investment of Rs 25 lakh crore in the rural economy, but it is unclear where this money will come from and what it will be spent on exactly.
PM Modi says all the time: ‘You gave the Congress 60 years, give me 60 months.’ He did not ask for 61 months, or 72 months, or 84 months. He asked for exactly 60 months and it is for the people of India to see that he has failed to deliver in these 60 months.
The remarkable thing to do would’ve been to say to the people of the country: ‘I seek forgiveness for the damage we have done’. But that isn’t PM Modi’s nature.
BJP manifesto promises good enough to give Modi a second chance
Manifestos hardly help parties win or lose elections. When political parties don’t treat their manifestos seriously, one can’t expect voters to get influenced by the promises in them.
But what the BJP has promised in its manifesto is good enough to give Narendra Modi a second chance. It will help the BJP keep its core support base intact as well as maintain its hold over the new voters it managed to mobilise in 2014.
The BJP’s promises on setting up a national traders’ commission, abrogating Article 370 and building the Ram Temple will keep its core supporters happy.
At the same time, its stand on citizenship bill, national security issues and holding simultaneous elections will ensure that the new supporters are sufficiently mobilised to vote for the BJP in 2019.
Promises on rural development and farmers’ welfare are essentially meant to counter the Congress’ promises in its manifesto.
A manifesto should be treated as a pledge that a party makes to the voters. And that is precisely the reason why the Election Commission has made it mandatory for political parties to release their manifestos before the polling starts.
Sadly, questions are not being asked of these parties on how much they have delivered on these promises while in power. Had that been the case, party manifestos would have offered new promises instead of repeating old issues.
Farmers will see through fake promises and call out BJP’s bluff
It is important to remember that the Modi government hasn’t fulfilled any of the promises the BJP made in 2014. For instance, they said they would attack black money hoarders and bring Rs 15 lakh in the accounts of all Indians. Not only has that not happened, but businessmen such as Nirav Modi and his likes who are very close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi have also benefitted hugely. Crony capitalism has flourished in Modi Raj.
The BJP manifesto for 2019 election pledges to double farmers’ income by 2022. But the treatment meted out to the farmers since 2014 is enough for them to realise that the BJP’s promises are nothing but trickery. Farmer suicide was at an all-time high, and when the community members came to Delhi and Mumbai to have their demands heard, not only did Modi not meet them even once but the farmers were brutally assaulted.
The fact that this government has had to promise Rs 500 as monthly support to farmers is proof of how little they care for their welfare. Such a meagre amount isn’t enough for a family to have even one square meal, and this is for the farmers who feed the entire nation.
The farmers will see through all the fake promises and call out the BJP’s bluff.
Moreover, the BJP doesn’t care for the damage they have done to the social fabric of the country. There is no remorse for the mob lynching and mistreatment of minorities and Dalits.
BJP manifesto is practical, visionary and inclusive
Assistant professor, Delhi University
While releasing the BJP Sankalp Patra, Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented a grand vision of a developed and prosperous India by 2047 and stressed that 2019-2024 would be the period to lay the foundation.
He said nationalism is the inspiration, antyodaya is the philosophy and good governance is the motto of the BJP.
Detractors have always been dismissive of the PM but what they fail to see in his choice of words and ideas is that he has managed to not only meet the aspirations of the people but also push them to desire for more and better.
This push for bigger objectives and the possibility of achieving a ‘great Indian dream’ are mirrored in the Sankalp Patra.
The Sankalp Patra presents 75 ‘resolves’ that are practical, visionary as well as inclusive. The manifesto talks about gaon (village), garib (poor), kisan (farmer), yuva (youth), as well as the middle class and neo-middle class. In this sense, it reflects collective as well as individual aspirations of our diverse electorate. The manifesto stresses on inclusive growth and has a nationalist vision. It offers a new security doctrine of ‘offensive defence’.
Farmers get significant attention with stress on doubling income and no interest on loans up to Rs 1 lakh via farmer credit card. It promises pension for marginal farmers, small shopkeepers and unorganised sector workers, and financial support of Rs 6,000 to all farmers.
People will vote for this manifesto not because it promises them sops but because it promises to make them resource creators.
This is a very strong document that is not just the manifesto of a party but the vision of a country.
Compiled by Fatima Khan, journalist at ThePrint