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BJP's pitch to the nation

BJPs pitch to the nation

Ensuring a robust last-minute impression on voters prior to the start of the first polling phase of Lok Sabha elections this week, BJP unveiled its manifesto. Building on its 'New India' narrative, the manifesto depicts India's progress in the last five years followed by a cluster of promises that envisage ambitious strides towards development. The manifesto runs along the similar lines of its 2014 version, carrying forward the work (schemes and policies) initiated in the previous term. With renewed deadlines, strong take on national security and categorical promises to maximise outreach ensuring inclusiveness, the release of BJP's 2019 manifesto will facilitate robust voter discussions across the nation during election silence. The decisive leadership of Modi is the key theme of BJP's manifesto apart from their '75 milestones for India @75' where the party claims to fulfil 75 goals by the 75th anniversary of India's Independence in 2022. The manifesto comprises a trove of government schemes sprawling across sectors alongside crucial promises in key areas such as agriculture, national & internal security, women empowerment, infrastructure, youth and education. Previously unkept promises – double income for farmers and clean Ganga – get a new lease of life with the deadline of 2022 while huge infrastructural promises appear to be banking on achievements of the last five years.

Few novel promises provide the special touch to the manifesto which is aimed at the dreams of 130 crore Indians. In spirit, BJP's manifesto, like its previous one, aims to garner hope, stressing a lot on the achievements of Modi's first innings. Ram Mandir and Sabarimala, the two cultural disputes which prevailed during the Modi years have been included with the party promising expeditious construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. This may draw criticism since the matter was referred to mediation by SC. Nevertheless, BJP reiterated its strong stance on the issue. It promises pension schemes for small & marginal farmers as well as all small shopkeepers, a massive Rs 25 lakh crore on rural productivity, and several PM-yojnas to ensure demands of rural India are met. After all, three major Kisan March under Modi demanded urgent revisioning in the agriculture sector. Much needed Rs 1 lakh crore investment in higher education, a conventional promise of increasing seats in premier institutions of the country, and a special entrepreneurial Northeast scheme. A little more clarity in Ayushman Bharat with the promise of establishing 1.5 lakh health & wellness centres apart from ensuring a robust doctor-population ratio of 1:1400. First of its kind university of foreign policy to be set up and a uniform civil code to be drafted. Empowering transgenders, enacting triple talaq and Citizenship Amendment Bill, abrogation of Article 370 as well as annulling Article 35A, NRC for other states, drafting a model police act and modernisation of police forces, setting up national institutes of teachers' training, a national policy for reskilling & upskilling outline BJP's novel promises. Reducing the poverty rate in India below 10 per cent by 2024, making India a $5 trillion economy by 2025, providing piped water connection to every household by 2024, ensure banking services within 5 kms of everyone, ODF status for all villages and cities, mark the party's zeal towards progress and good governance. BJP aims to curb air pollution by eliminating crop residue burning and converting NCAP into a mission like Swachh Bharat to ensure widespread compliance and workforce in meeting the envisioned target. BJP envisages 100 lakh crore investment in infrastructure which comprises doubling the length of national highways, increasing port capacity to 2,500 MTPA, ensuring 150 operational airports, et al, citing a strong developmental trajectory as evident in the culminated term.

BJP's manifesto bridges Modi's first innings with his bid for a consecutive second, strongly advocating Modi's achievements as a decisive leader. While that sounds like a masterstroke, it may also backfire since the party's footprint is now reduced to chants of Modi and new India. It is worth noting that back in 2014, Modi-led BJP garnered massive majority owing to huge disappointment from UPA-II. Corruption made up a huge chunk of BJP's campaigning and a wide fiscal deficit bolstered BJP's rise to power. In Modi, India saw the possibility of a much-needed change and hence, voted accordingly. Now while Modi ensured a cleaner term with respect to corruption, a number of issues in unemployment, agrarian distress, institutional subterfuge, failed promises and anti-incumbency plagued it. National interest was piqued with a forward and solid stance during instances of national security and gross progress highlighted to balance the failures. Manifestos will seldom be less ambitious and that is why judging the scale of ambition should not really be a critique's take. Rather, the intent serves as a more practical indicator for forming an opinion which shall influence the vote. Both Congress and BJP have put up their promises and the nation has to now decide how relevant their promises are with our thoughts and expectations.

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