Lok Sabha election manifestos: Modi’s Guarantee, Congress’s NYAY | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Lok Sabha election manifestos: Modi’s Guarantee, Congress’s NYAY

Apr 16, 2024 12:04 PM IST

The BJP and Congress have through their manifestos tried to reach out to the poor, women, and youth but with different approaches

On Sunday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released its Sankalp Patra, or manifesto titled “Modi Ki Guarantee”. The manifesto covers 10 groups and 14 sectors with a focus on the empowerment of four groups whom Prime Minister Narendra Modi has referred to as four castes or Gyan, an acronym for the gareeb (poor), yuva (youth), annadaata (farmers) and nari (women). It promises to expand the scope and reach of the existing policies for economic and social empowerment of these groups.

The Congress has pledged to reserve 50% of central government jobs for women from 2025. (HT PHOTO/File)
The Congress has pledged to reserve 50% of central government jobs for women from 2025. (HT PHOTO/File)

The Congress’s manifesto released on April 5 is focussed on justice or NYAY. It refers to 25 guarantees covering the youth, women, farmers, workers, and social justice. The Congress has pledged job creation, a Right to Apprenticeship, and 1 lakh annually to all poor households.

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The Congress has also tried to reach out to caste groups that voted for it before the implementation of the Mandal Commission’s recommendations for reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC) in the 1990s. It has promised a nationwide Socio-Economic and Caste Census to enumerate the castes and sub-castes and their socio-economic conditions. The Congress has guaranteed a constitutional amendment to raise the 50% cap on reservations for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and OBCs.

The poor

The BJP’s manifesto has promised free ration under the PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana to 800 million people, which has been extended by five years, a price stabilisation fund for vegetables and pulses, and self-reliance in the production of pulses, edible oils, and vegetables for ensuring food safety. It pledged to continue free health care of up to 5 lakh to the poor families under the Ayushman Bharat scheme. The BJP has said it will expand the scope of PM Awas Yojana and build an additional 30 million houses for the poor, take drinking water supply to every home, and reduce electricity bills by providing free solar power under PM Surya Ghar Yojana

The Congress has promised to increase the wages under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) to 400 daily. It said MGNREGS funds and workers may also be deployed to build public assets such as classrooms, libraries, and primary health centres. The Congress has also promised to launch an urban employment guarantee scheme for the urban poor for the reconstruction and renewal of urban infrastructure. It has guaranteed a national minimum wage of 400 daily. The Congress has promised to amend the GST law in favour of the universally accepted principle it shall be a single, moderate rate (with exceptions) that will not burden the poor.

Women

The BJP has promised to increase the number of Lakhpati Didis, a self-help group (SHG) initiative for rural women to help increase their earnings. The scheme offers avenues for women to earn at least a lakh a year. The BJP has set a target of increasing Lakhpati Didis from 10 million to 30 million. The BJP has pledged the empowerment of women SHGs with the skills and tools in key service sectors such as IT, healthcare, education, retail, and tourism to increase their income. The party has promised to integrate SHGs with ongoing initiatives such as One District One Product to enhance better market access for their products. The BJP has promised to facilitate more women participation in the workforce through the development of hostels, creches, and more public toilets. It has pledged to expand health services focused on the prevention and reduction of breast and cervical cancer.

The Congress’s manifesto has promised a Mahalakshmi scheme for 1 lakh annually to every poor family as an unconditional cash transfer. The poor will be identified among the families at the bottom of the income pyramid. The Congress has pledged to reserve 50% of central government jobs for women from 2025. It has promised to ensure more women are appointed as judges, secretaries to government, high-ranking police officers, law officers, and directors on the boards of listed companies. The Congress has pledged to double the working women hostels and build at least one Savitribai Phule Hostel in each district.

Youth

The BJP has promised to address frequent paper leaks and enact legislation to prevent them. It has pledged to expand the start-up ecosystem to promote entrepreneurship among youngsters and encourage start-ups in government procurement. The BJP said the focus will be on employment generation through infrastructure development and expanding the tourism sector.

The Congress has promised a Right to Apprenticeship Act to provide a one-year apprenticeship with a private or a public sector company to every diploma holder or college graduate below 25. Apprentices will get 1 lakh a year. The party has said the apprenticeship will impart skills, enhance employability, and provide full-time job opportunities for millions of youth. It has promised to fill nearly three million vacancies in sanctioned posts in the central government. Vacancies in the panchayats and municipal bodies shall be filled according to a timetable agreed with state governments, the party pledged.

Farmers

The BJP manifesto promises to continue 6,000 annually to farmers under PM Kisan Nidhi and to strengthen the crop insurance scheme, and timely review of Minimum Support Prices (MSP) for crops. It pledged to aid the production of nutritious vegetables, set up news clusters for the production of essentials such as onions and tomatoes, more storage facilities, and focus on natural farming and crop diversification. The BJP has promised to promote Shree Anna (millets) for food security, nutrition, and environmental sustainability.

The Congress has promised “a legal guarantee” to the MSP annually as per the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendation. It has pledged to make the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices a statutory body and a Permanent Commission on Agricultural Finance to report periodically on the extent of agricultural credit and the need for loan forbearance.

Senior Citizens

The BJP has promised the expansion of the Ayushman Bharat scheme to cover senior citizens above 70. It has pledged to facilitate knowledge sharing by senior citizens through a National Senior Citizens portal and access to social security benefits and other services at the doorsteps.

The Congress has promised a 1,000 monthly contribution of the central government to pensions for senior citizens, widows, and persons with disabilities under the National Social Assistance Programme as well as easy access to legal services for senior citizens. It has also assured a review of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act to remove the deficiencies.

Infrastructure

The BJP has promised four bullet trains covering all regions of the country besides expanding the railway network to increase capacity for passenger and cargo transport. It has pledged to redevelop railway stations, add Vande Bharat sleeper trains, expand the Metro network, improve rural roads, and decongest cities apart from expanding airways, motorways, railways, and highways.

The Congress’s manifesto underlines the need to attract private capital to create public assets and infrastructure. It said the BJP government has inverted this model and was using public money to create assets that eventually find their way into private hands. The Congress has promised to “stop this loot of public money” and to “modernise the outdated railway infrastructure.” In doing so, it has pledged to ensure that trains and stations serve the needs of the common people and commuters.

Governance

The BJP has promised to continue its fight against corruption, implement the Uniform Civil Code, and formulate a national litigation policy to expedite the resolution of matters in courts. It said the party’s vision for good governance is to further simplify the processes, procedures, rules, and regulations in a way that government can be taken out of the everyday lives of normal citizens.

The Congress has promised to remove the climate of fear and amend laws to tackle hate speeches, hate crimes, and communal conflicts. “The gravest danger is that India may no longer be a truly free and democratic republic. Democracy in India has been hollowed out and we are rapidly sliding to become a one-party and one-person dictatorship.” The Congress manifesto assured that “the police, investigation, and intelligence agencies will function strictly in accordance with law. They will be brought under the oversight of Parliament or the state legislatures, as the case may be.”

Internal Security

The BJP has promised a zero-tolerance towards terrorism, infrastructure development on the borders, boosting cybersecurity measures, eliminating Left Wing Extremism , and strengthening paramilitary forces with state-of-the-art equipment and trained personnel. It has pledged to implement the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and to set up a National Forensics Mission.

The Congress has promised to work with state governments to build, train, and equip the police forces to maintain law and order and to punish offenders without fear or favour. The party has pledged to pursue the “unfinished agenda” of setting up a National Intelligence Grid and National Counter-Terrorism Centre.

Foreign policy

The BJP has promised to strengthen India’s position as the leading voice of the Global South, push for permanent membership at the UN Security Council, continue efforts to build consensus against global terrorism and crack down on terror funding. It said the party will continue to focus on the Neighbourhood First policy, expand India’s diplomatic network, and involve Non-Resident Indians in the country’s growth and prosperity.

The Congress has promised to uphold continuity in foreign policy with an approach shaped by the freedom movement and developed through the wisdom of visionary leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru. It has pledged to “work to repair India’s international image that has been damaged by the present government’s intolerance of dissent and suppression of human rights.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Saubhadra Chatterji is Deputy Political Editor at the Hindustan Times. He writes on both politics and policies.

  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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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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