BJP Lok Sabha poll manifesto: A mix of welfare politics, ideological causes | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

BJP Lok Sabha poll manifesto: A mix of welfare politics, ideological causes

Apr 14, 2024 08:14 PM IST

The BJP says the party’s poll manifesto is intended to improve the quality of life for millions who are on the fringes of the economic and social order.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s manifesto or Sankalp Patra is an assurance of continuing and expanding the party’s welfare politics, envisaging economic and social empowerment of the poor and the marginalsied and policies to fuel economy and create jobs while nurturing ideological causes such as the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) and development of religious centres.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the release of the BJP’s Lok Sabha poll manifesto at the party’s headquarters in Delhi on Sunday. (Photo by Ajay Aggarwal/ Hindustan Times)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the release of the BJP’s Lok Sabha poll manifesto at the party’s headquarters in Delhi on Sunday. (Photo by Ajay Aggarwal/ Hindustan Times)

It also counters the opposition’s promises and freebies with its own set of assurances termed as “Modi Ki Guarantee”.

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Released on Sunday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the manifesto lists guarantees for 10 social groups including women, poor, youth and farmers; and 14 sectors, including internal and external security, education, healthcare, industry and rural economy.

Under each head, Modi has assured policy intervention, implementation on the ground and saturation of schemes to ensure the BJP’s guiding mantra of Antyodaya or service to the last person in the queue is met.

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The party, which is seeking a third term in power with a bigger mandate than before, over 400 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats, says the document is intended to improve the quality of life for millions who are on the fringes of the economic and social order.

“The focus is on the middle class and poor families, there is a sentiment that this is a document that talks of taking care of families. There is something for every section, and it talks about complete welfare,” said a party functionary, who was part of the manifesto drafting exercise.

The party, which has managed to build a strong vote bank of the ideologically aligned as well as those who have benefitted from its welfare policies, says it wants to meet the aspirations of the middle class and the neo-middle class, a section that it claims has been pulled out of poverty in the last decade. “Our focus will be on the aspirations of the middle class that wants its own house...on the neo middle class families that will need support and protection. So, in a well thought-through way, the focus will be on healthcare, education, food and providing them with their own house,” the functionary said.

Also Read | Lok Sabha elections: Opposition's 'Jumla Patra' jibe at BJP's manifesto

Aspiration is a recurring theme in the 69-page document. As is the promise of delivery.

“In the next five years, we will take our nation into the top 3 economies of the world, launch a final and decisive assault against poverty, open up newer avenues of growth in various sectors, further intensify our battle against corruption, unveil the next generation of reforms, and take a number of pro-people decisions and actions,” Modi said.

In his message he described the Sankalp Patra as more than just a collection of promises. “This Sankalp Patra outlines the collective aspirations and goals of our nation, by our nation and for our nation. As you have seen in the last ten years it is Modi’s Guarantee that every promise made is fulfilled,” he said.

Eliciting support for a third term, he said, “It is Modi’s Guarantee that we will work 24 X 7 for 2047.”

For the poor it promises free ration for the next five years, subsidised healthcare, housing amenities, and zero electricity bill through interventions such as the solar power generation scheme.

For the middle class, there is the promise of creating high value jobs in Tier 2 and 3 cities, ease of living, sustainable cities in addition to quality healthcare and education. The focus on jobs is expected to assuage concerns about the shrinking avenues for work, and well- paying jobs.

Assurance of financial independence, well-being, security and enhanced participation in the workforce has been made to woo women, a vote bank that has helped the party steal victory in the last general election as well as a clutch of state polls.

With an eye on the youth, the manifesto promises to address contemporary challenges such as paper leaks that have made the young restive.

The party promises to ensure a transparent mechanism for conducting public examinations; expanding the start-up ecosystem, funding and skilling initiatives to promote entrepreneurship. Employment for this segment, having become the Achilles Heel of the sector, the government has refrained from specifying numbers for job creation. It has underlined efforts such as the performance linked incentives and establishment of global centres as avenues for work opportunities. “Employment linked incentive is already there. In fact, the Congress has copied the concept from us. Thanks to PLI, 22 lakh new opportunities have been created. 1.5 lakh people work in the Apple factory alone,” the functionary quoted above said in response to the opposition’s claims and criticism of the government.

The functionary said the government has taken a “360-degree view of the funding required for new initiatives,” including the announcement of extending Ayushman Bharat benefits to senior citizens above 70. “Every suggestion and proposal was studied for budgetary demands. And we worked out the details of what administrative support including help from state governments will be required,” the functionary said.

While there was speculation of a hike in the reimbursement for small and marginal farmers under the PM Kisan Nidhi from the existing 6,000 a year, the manifesto does not mention any hike. It does, however, promise strengthening the scheme, revising Minimum Support Price from time to time and creating avenues for better markets and production. The focus on farmers is particularly important, given the impact that distress in the agri sector can have on electoral outcome. Although the government has rolled back the farm laws that saw a year-long protest in 2020; the demand for legal sanction to MSP has been a bone of contention between the farmers and the government.

The manifesto also promises review of national floor wages, social security for gig workers, drivers and vendors. There is a concerted effort to reach out to the migrant workforce, through promises of special trains, loans and saturation of existing schemes. The government’s handling of the migrant workers during the lockdown imposed at the beginning of the Covid pandemic had drawn sharp criticism from the opposition and civil society. Disturbing images of men, women and children walking over distances in the absence of transport gave the opposition a chance to train its guns at the government.

Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBCs continue to remain at the centre of the government’s outreach. The manifesto talks about protecting their heritage and culture and improving their socio-economic status and expanding livelihood opportunities for them.

On the foreign policy front, the manifesto makes a mention of how India has emerged as the voice of the global south by using PM’s vision of samman, samvad, shayog shanti and Samriddhi. The party that takes pride in adopting a muscular foreign policy has talked about continuing to push for consensus on fighting terror, developing strategic partnerships for mineral security, following the policy of neighbourhood first.

To enhance internal security, the manifesto promises enhanced infrastructure along the borders, implementation of the CAA, robust cyber security and a national forensic mission.

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    Smriti covers an intersection of politics and governance. Having spent over a decade in journalism, she combines old fashioned leg work with modern story telling tools.

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