Analysing the manifesto conundrum
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s election manifesto offers glimpses of its understanding of India and its vision for India. The BJP outlined its key policies in the document released with fanfare in New Delhi, balancing nationalist policies with development talk, three days before elections begin. The BJP in its manifesto has said that it will launch a pension scheme for all small and marginal farmers in the country so as to ensure social security to them on reaching 60 years of age and the party is committed to making an investment of Rs. 25 lakh crore to improve the productivity of the farm sector. It further adds that it will provide short-term new agriculture loans up to Rs. 1 lakh at a 0% interest rate for 1-5 years on the condition of prompt repayment of the principal amount. The BJP’s manifesto also said it would scrap laws providing special rights to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir. The manifesto is multi-layered and multi-dimensional because given the fact that our society is very diverse, a political party can’t have a one-size-fits-all kind of policy. It addresses the needs of all sections of society. In fact, this is a real manifesto, which contains basic needs. We need not only Rafael, bombs, arms and ammunition, we also need issues to be addressed like job, education, health, agriculture. I know this manifesto not only contains these issues, but also this manifesto will be performed because this is the party that does whatever it says, which was proved in the last five years. I firmly believe that the decision to scrape laws related to Article 370 and 35A are not only to save the Constitution but also to save the integrity of the country.
On the other hand, few days prior to BJP’s release of its manifesto, the Congress released its manifesto, which contains tall promises on public welfare with a view to garnering popular vote, which have no substitutes for policies based on sound principles of public finance. Where from is the Congress planning to get the resources for such funding? Furthermore, the election manifesto of the Congress party, for the 2019 general elections, has shattered the nation by giving primacy to the agenda hitherto professed by the ultra-Left parties. The manifesto reads more like a pamphlet of the All India Students’ Association, the students’ wing of the CPI (M-L). Any talk about Article 370 of the Constitution is mocked at by invoking the treaty of accession and any talk about repealing this temporary provision is considered blasphemy. By stating that “nothing will be done to change the Constitutional position” on Article 370, the party is endorsing the views of the ultra-Left. Similarly, these bodies in JNU are always conspicuous by their silence on the plight of Kashmiri Pandits, which is reflected in the manifesto, where an entire section is devoted to J&K but not a single mention is made to this issue. But what is interesting to note that the ‘secular brigade’ is trying to find the merits in the Congress manifesto instead of analysing the economics involved. It has not uttered a word of criticism against it. Had it been the BJP manifesto, it would have immediately written all the flaws. Having said this, I want to ask: Is the Congress manifesto not fooling the people by making false promises, which cannot be implemented. Simple arithmetic is that the Congress promises to create 20 lakh jobs in Central government with the government employees getting Rs.50,000/- salary, what will be the financial implication. Next Rs.72,000/- for the poorest people, what will be the implication. Instead of increasing the man-days for providing rural employment, Rahul wants to dole out tax-payer’s money. The whole of India knows the trials and tribulations of six decades of Congress rule, which have left us with a long series of downfalls and scams. With the chances of a Congress government coming to power at the Centre relatively remote, the dangle of carrots would be seen as impractical and irresponsibly utopian.
By Deepak Kumar Rath