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BJP Manifesto: Promises UCC, Simultaneous Elections, 6G Technology, Free Electricity through Solar Power

BJP Manifesto: Promises UCC, Simultaneous Elections, 6G Technology, Free Electricity through Solar Power

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Apr 14: The BJP on Sunday released its Lok Sabha election manifesto, resolving to implement “One Nation, One Election” and reiterating its stand to draw up a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) and underlining the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s focus on ‘GYAN’ – the poor, the youth, farmers and the women.

The party has also promised to expand the government’s flagship infrastructure and welfare programmes, including the road, housing, Ujjwala gas connection and Ayushman Bharat health insurance schemes, and announced free electricity for poor households. The 76-page “Sankalp Patra” also makes it a point to refer to India as Bharat.

The document also talks about expanding the 5G networks and taking the lead in the development of 6G technology, making India a global manufacturing hub, organising Ramayan festivals across the globe to commemorate the “Pran Pratishtha of Ram Lalla”, and working towards bringing back “Bharatiya idols and artifacts that were taken away illegally from Bharat.”

In a sharp response to the BJP’s manifesto, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said it should be called a ‘Sankalp Patra’ but a maafinama — an apology. “In 2014, they said they will constitute a taskforce to bring black money back, but what they brought is electoral bond. Instead of the government making Smart Cities, China is making smart cities inside our boundaries,” he said.

Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said the BJP’s policy was to lie so loudly that people believe it to be the truth. She said the BJP’s manifesto does not even mention the ethnic violence in Manipur and the protests in Ladakh.

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah listed the BJP’s unfulfilled promises of two crore jobs a year and doubling farmers’ income, among others, and mocked the saffron party over its manifesto, saying its government has never fulfilled a promise, nor will it in the future. Mr Siddaramaiah said there has to be a review of what the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Government has done in the past 10 years.

The BJP manifesto was released at the party headquarter in Delhi by Mr Modi, the BJP president JP Nadda and the union ministers Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah. The Prime Minister said the manifesto focus on four pillars of Viksit Bharat — women power, youth power, farmers and the poor. He said it focused on the “dignity of life” and the “quality of life,” the quantity of opportunity as well as the quality of opportunity. The government would focus on taking piped gas to all homes and providing free electricity through solar power, the Prime Minister said.

Mr Modi made a pitch for electing a strong and stable government in an uncertain world beset by geopolitical tensions with the manifesto prioritising development and welfare while shunning populist measures and contentious issues like the NRC. Mr Modi also hit out at the Opposition INDIA bloc over one of its constituents being in favour of nuclear disarmament and said they cannot protect the country.

The manifesto said the Centre’s free ration scheme would be extended by 5 years. The government, it said, would focus on self-reliance in production of pulses, edible oils and vegetables to stabilise price and protect the poor’s plates. Ayushman Bharat scheme and the PM Awas Yojana would be expanded and drinking water supply would be taken to every home, it said.

For the farmers, the BJP manifesto said it would continue to provide the annual assistance of ₹ 6,000 and would strengthen the crop insurance scheme through use of technology. The document said the government would continue periodic hikes in Minimum Support Price for crops, set up new clusters for production of essentials and build more storage facilities.

With two of the three ideological projects of the BJP – abrogation of Article 370 that gave special status to Kashmir and the construction of Ayodhya Ram Temple – completed, the manifesto’s thrust is more on governance, including widening of the welfare net and expansion of infrastructure programmes, and steers clear of contentious issues such as the NRC.

The only core BJP agenda that remains now is UCC, which is already part of the Directive Principles of State Policy. And the manifesto reaffirms what was said in 2019. “Article 44 of the Constitution lists Uniform Civil Code as one of the Directive Principles of State Policy. BJP believes that there cannot be gender equality till such time Bharat adopts a Uniform Civil Code, which protects the rights of all women, and the BJP reiterates its stand to draw a Uniform Civil Code, drawing upon the best traditions and harmonising them with the modern times,” it said. The 2019 manifesto carried the same paragraph.

The manifesto has a significant addition as compared to 2019. Under the section “Maintaining Peace in Northeast.” it says, “We will continue our efforts to address the issues in the disturbed areas and remove AFSPA in a phased manner. We will further work towards resolution of inter-state border disputes amongst North-eastern states through sustained efforts.”

The 2019 manifesto promised to double farmers’ income by 2022. “At the very beginning of our current term, Prime Minister Modi embarked on a mission to double farmers’ income. We will make all efforts to achieve this goal by 2022,” it said.

The 2024 manifesto skips any such mention. It promises to “further strengthen the PM Fasal Bima Yojana through more technological interventions to ensure speedy and more accurate assessment, faster payouts and quicker grievance resolution” and “continue to increase MSP from time to time.”

Besides, the ruling party has promised to set up new clusters for vegetable production and storage, position India as the “Nutri-Hub of the world,” focus on expanding millet cultivation among small farmers, promote research and international marketing to underscore its health and sustainability advantages, launch the National Mission on Natural Farming to promote nature-friendly, climate-resilient, remunerative agriculture for food and nutrition secure Bharat and further incentivise crop diversification to make agriculture sustainable and remunerative.

The manifesto promises to launch a “Krishi Infrastructure Mission for integrated planning and coordinated implementation of agri-infrastructure projects,” expand irrigation facilities, create a network of grain storage facilities in rural areas, launch an indigenous Bharat Krishi satellite, and expand PM Kisan Samriddhi Kendras.

Reiterating its stand on the Ram Mandir, the 2019 manifesto said, “We will explore all possibilities within the framework of the Constitution and all necessary efforts to facilitate the expeditious construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.”

Now that the temple has been opened, the manifesto vows to preserve and promote the legacy of Lord Ram and says, “Ramayan is celebrated across the world, particularly in South and South-East Asia. We will launch a global outreach program for documenting and promoting the tangible and intangible legacy of Lord Ram in all countries. We will celebrate Ramayan Utsav with great fervour across the globe to commemorate the Pran Pratishtha of Ram Lalla.”

Besides, it talks about undertaking “significant new projects to develop religious and tourist sites inspired by the Kashi Vishwanath corridor model, across the length and breadth of our country.” The manifesto promises holistic development of Ayodhya.

Another addition to the manifesto this time was the resolve to “relentlessly work towards bringing back Bharatiya idols and artifacts that were taken away illegally from Bharat.” There is also the promise to “collaborate with countries across the globe to restore and revitalise sites of Bharatiya civilization.”

Barring a sentence that says the BJP government “empowered Muslim women by protecting them from the barbaric practice of ‘Triple Talaq,’ the manifesto makes no mention of Muslims or other religious minorities.

The manifesto this time talks about linguistic minorities, saying, “We will work on the creation of a technology-based system such as Bhashini for preservation/ facilitating translation of languages of linguistic minorities.”

The manifesto noted that the government revoked Article 370 leading to a “significant reduction in violence in Jammu and Kashmir.” But that was the only mention of Jammu and Kashmir in the document. Addressing a rally in Udhampur last week, Modi promised the restoration of statehood and said “the day is not far” when Assembly elections would be held in the Union Territory.

While promising to abrogate Article 370 and annul Article 35A of the Constitution, the 2019 manifesto talked about making efforts to “ensure the safe return of Kashmiri Pandits” and providing financial assistance for the resettlement of refugees from West Pakistan, Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (POJK), and Chhamb.

Addressing the media, Mr Nadda gave a rundown of the BJP government’s achievements over the past decade in power. He reiterated that ‘Modi ki guarantee’ — the BJP’s key poll slogan — “is a guarantee that all guarantees will be fulfilled.”

Referring to the Covid pandemic, the BJP chief said while developed countries oscillated between prioritising economy and the health of its citizens, the Narendra Modi government’s decisive steps helped India recover from the impact of Covid. He also said India came up with two vaccines and 220 crore doses within nine months and also helped reach the shots to other countries.

Mr Rajnath Singh, who is also the chairman of the 27-member committee that had prepared the manifesto, said the BJP’s pledges made ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls had been fulfilled. “What we say, we do,” he said, listing the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, the passage of the women reservation Bill and the Ayodhya Ram Temple’s construction as its key achievements.

Mr Singh said the BJP’s manifesto has been prepared on the basis of 15 lakh suggestions from across the country and presents a roadmap for Viksit Bharat while focusing on social justice. “Modi’s guarantee is considered 24 karat gold, so our manifesto is the gold standard of manifesto for parties across the world,” he said.




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