Editorial: An Exercise In Continuity But Some Key Misses

Editorial: An Exercise In Continuity But Some Key Misses

The BJPs ‘Sankalp Patra’, its manifesto for the 2024 general election, is surprisingly low on drama and tall promises

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Tuesday, April 16, 2024, 03:48 AM IST
article-image
Home Minister Amit Shah unveils 'Sankalp Patra' | Twitter/@BJP4India

The BJPs ‘Sankalp Patra’, its manifesto for the 2024 general election, is surprisingly low on drama and tall promises, indicative of the party’s supreme confidence in its performance in the forthcoming polls, a belief that may not be entirely misplaced. Will the manifesto succeed in furthering Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stated aim of 400-paar seats? Having achieved two of its three most contentious ideological pledges in the last five years of its governance — abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution according special status to Jammu and Kashmir and building a grand Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, the only thing left to achieve for the saffron party is bringing about a Uniform Civil Code in the country. This is reiterated in the 2024 manifesto as a means to ensure gender equality for all communities. The manifesto which is a list of the guarantees pledged by Modi highlights the BJP’s focus areas of the poor, youth, farmers and women power ‘Gareeb, Yuva, Annadata and Nari Shakti’ or GYAN. It resolves to implement ‘one nation one poll’, a concept which is being scrutinised by a committee headed by former President Ram Nath Kovind, which has already presented its preliminary findings and highlights the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act.

There are no big ticket announcements in the manifesto, which is only a reiteration of what has been achieved in the last 10 years and sets out a roadmap for the next five years. Flagship infrastructure and welfare programmes such as road construction, housing, Ayushman health plan and Ujjwala gas connection scheme all find mention in the Sankalp Patra, indicating a sense of continuity in the BJP’s proposals. While all citizens over 70 have been promised free health coverage up to Rs 5 lakh under the Ayushman scheme, free electricity for all poor households is another manifesto pledge. It also said it will continue to provide free ration to 80 crore beneficiaries for the next five years under the PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, belying claims of lifting crores from poverty. Focusing on the Nari aspect, the manifesto pledged to expand health services to ensure health for women by focusing on preventing and reducing cases of anaemia, breast cancer, cervical cancer and osteoporosis. The manifesto also promised to systematically implement the Women’s Reservation Act so that women get adequate representation in Parliament and state legislatures.

The manifesto is conspicuously silent on the National Register of Citizens which played a prominent part in the 2019 manifesto. Kashmir, apart from a brief statement on peace returning and fewer terror incidents, finds little mention. Modi in an election rally in J&K had mentioned the early restoration of statehood and elections to the state Assembly but the Sankalp Patra is silent on these. While the 2019 manifesto had pledged to double farmers’ income by 2022, a promise that was never fulfilled, this year there is only mention of strengthening the Fasal Bima Yojana and promises to increase MSP from time to time. The focus is on technological interventions and expanding millet cultivation, a pet project of the Modi sarkar.

Perhaps in a nod to the situation in Manipur, the manifesto states that it will continue efforts to address issues in the disturbed areas of the north east and remove AFSPA in a phased manner. This was not there in the 2019 manifesto.

The cultural component which used to be an essential theme of BJP manifestoes is not so prominent this time around, largely perhaps because the key promise of a grand Ram temple has already been fulfilled. Also, with the party firmly in the saddle any reiteration of a Hindu-centric educational and cultural construct is not really necessary. Nevertheless, the manifesto vows to preserve and protect the legacy of Lord Ram by launching a global outreach programme for documenting and promoting His tangible and intangible legacy. It promises holistic development of Ayodhya. The party, which is seeking to make a mark electorally in Tamil Nadu, has also vowed to promote the work of Tamil poet and philosopher Thiruvalluvar globally by building cultural centres all over the world. The BJP’s claim that India will be the third largest economic power within a short time frame is repeated. It has promised to speed up infrastructure development along the China, Myanmar and Pakistan borders. If one thing is clear about the BJP manifesto it is that the roadmap for a ‘Viksit Bharat’ is firmly within its sights. Whether voters will see the document as the BJP intends them to remains to be seen.

RECENT STORIES

The Likely Changes In Iran In Post-Raisi Era

The Likely Changes In Iran In Post-Raisi Era

Amid Concerns Over EC's Inaction Against Hate Speeches During Election, People Remember TN Sheshan,...

Amid Concerns Over EC's Inaction Against Hate Speeches During Election, People Remember TN Sheshan,...

The Two Big Policies To Be Watched After Election Results

The Two Big Policies To Be Watched After Election Results

Election Commission’s Failure Is An Onslaught On Democracy

Election Commission’s Failure Is An Onslaught On Democracy

Editorial: An Act Of Faith, Now Betrayed?

Editorial: An Act Of Faith, Now Betrayed?