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War of words over manifesto becomes flashpoint of 2024 Lok Sabha polls

Apr 17, 2024 09:49 AM IST

The BJP has knocked at the doors of the Election Commission, calling the Congress manifesto ‘Ghar Ghar Guarantee’ to ‘corrupt practices amounting to bribery’

Election manifestos and the promises they are built on have become the latest flashpoint between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress as we approach the first phase of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the launch of the BJP's ‘Sankalp Patra’ for the Lok Sabha elections, in New Delhi on Sunday. (Ajay Aggarwal/ HT Photo)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the launch of the BJP's ‘Sankalp Patra’ for the Lok Sabha elections, in New Delhi on Sunday. (Ajay Aggarwal/ HT Photo)

On Sunday, the Congress dubbed the BJP’s ‘Sankalp Patra’, or manifesto, titled ‘Modi Ki Guarantee’ as a “jumps patra”, or ‘a document full of rhetoric’. The party said the BJP, which had promised two crore jobs annually and doubling farmer incomes in 2019, had shifted the goalpost in 2024 by ‘jumping to 2047’. The grand old party has accused the BJP of not fulfilling both these promises. Follow full coverage of the Lok Sabha elections

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On Tuesday, the BJP knocked at the doors of the Election Commission, calling the Congress manifesto ‘Ghar Ghar Guarantee’ to ‘corrupt practices amounting to bribery’.

Guarantees that the Congress announced ahead of the Karnataka polls, which dominated the political discourse, were quickly dubbed as ‘Revdis’, or freebies, by the BJP. The guarantees were largely credited for the Congress’ victory in the state where the BJP faced criticism for irregularities in governance and charges of corruption.

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While it defends its sops to various sectors and groups as part of its social justice policy and welfare work, the BJP often targets its opponents for promising freebies that have repercussions on the economy and a limited impact on improving living conditions.

Taking the fight to the EC, the BJP now wants the poll panel to “immediately restrain Congress from publishing, disseminating and distributing” guarantee cards or any material that it claims is intended to promote “electoral bribery and inducement of voters”.

In its complaint to the poll panel, the BJP said the so-called “guarantee cards” were being distributed to households, along with application forms for the promised benefits.

Slamming the Congress, the BJP complained that the guarantee cards are being passed as legitimate instruments for accessing promised “freebies, largesse and utopian promises”.

Also Read | Lok Sabha election manifestos: Modi’s Guarantee, Congress’s NYAY

Assurances and promises made in manifestos have for long been topics of debate. In 2022, the poll panel wrote to all political parties for details of the financial implications of promises made in their election manifesto and ways and means to finance them.

“The trust of voters should be sought only on those promises which are possible to be fulfilled,” the Election Commission said in its letter.

The Commission said though it agrees in principle that it is the right of political parties to release manifestos, it cannot overlook the “undesirable impact” of some of the promises on the conduct of free and fair elections, and maintaining a level playing field for all political parties and candidates.

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  • 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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