BJP’s ‘Sankalp Patra’ - the election manifesto highlights robust nationalist vision with major thrust on farmers, small traders, education, national security and development besides implementing the Uniform Civil Code abrogation of Article 370 and 35A.
Bharatiya Janata Party released ‘Sankalp Patra’ - its election manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The manifesto highlights robust nationalist vision with major thrust on farmers, small traders, education, abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A and promise of Ram Mandir. BJP clearly has laid out its vision not only for the election but a clear agenda for the next five years. BJP has taken the national security and development as the top agenda besides implementing the Uniform Civil Code, the demand for simultaneous elections and adherence of “zero tolerance" towards terrorism.
The manifesto was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah in the presence of Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
Expressing gratitude to people for cooperation in past 5 years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “We have set 75 well-defined resolutions in our manifesto that we can fulfill in a time bound manner. We are moving forward with 'one mission, one direction'.” Talking about the strategy to develop India, he added, “To develop India, development has to be made into a mass movement, and a successful result of that is 'swacchta', today 'swachhta' is a mass movement.” “We have to make the development multi layer to sustain the diversity in society”, added Modi.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh who is also the head of the BJP’s manifesto panel, said, “We had a zero tolerance policy towards terrorism, it will continue till terror is not eliminated completely. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, “This manifesto is not prepared with a 'tukde tukde' mindset and also not with an 'Ivy league' mindset. This has been prepared with a strong nationalist vision.”
BJP manifesto also talked about providing Rs 6000 yearly income support to all farmers, under PM Kisan Samman Nidhi besides providing pension facility to small and marginal farmers after 60 years of age. In addition a new short-term 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 will be extended to farmers.
For the small trader, the BJP manifesto promises to establish National Traders' Welfare Board and create a National Policy for Retail Trade for the growth of retail businesses. In addition, the manifesto promises to provide an accident insurance of 10 lakh rupees to all traders registered under GST.
The BJP manifesto also mentions about the scrapping of the Article 370 which gives autonomous status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir and also promised to scrap Article 35A which provides special rights and privileges to the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
In tune with its idea of holding simultaneous elections for Parliament and State assemblies to reduce expenditure, the manifesto promises to implement hold simultaneous elections, The manifesto also talks about a single voter list to avoid confusion so that everyone gets a chance to exercise their right to vote for all public bodies.
Without ignoring the burning issue of Ram Mandir, the party cautiously handled the issue. The manifesto mentions about the promise to construct the Ram Mandir by exploring all possibilities within the framework of the Constitution and facilitate the expeditious construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
Though the party claims to have charted out 75 well-defined resolutions as part of the “Sankalp Patra”, here is a list of top ten promises that are likely to make an impact in the coming years.
In tune with his ideology of ‘robust nationalism” which the BJP has been rapidly focusing on in the recent times, the party has promised to further strengthening the Armed Forces. BJP has assured to speed up the purchases of outstanding defence-related equipment and weapons. Besides, in order to equip the Armed Forces with modern equipment, the party has assured to continue to take focused steps to strengthen the strike capability of the Armed Forces.
Citizenship Amendment Bill
In continuation with its “Nation First” commitment, The BJP’s manifesto declares that BJP is committed to the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Bill for the protection of individuals of religious minority communities from neighbouring countries escaping persecution. Accordingly, the party has promised to make all efforts to clarify the issues to the sections of population from the North Eastern states who have expressed apprehensions regarding the legislation. While reiterating its commitment to protect the linguistic, cultural and social identity of the people of North East, the party has also proposed to “implement the NRC in a phased manner in other parts of the country” to combat the infiltration of illegal migrants.
There has been a huge change in the cultural and linguistic identity of some areas due to illegal immigration, resulting in an adverse impact on local people's livelihood and employment. We will expeditiously complete the National Register of Citizens process in these areas on priority. In future we will implement the NRC in a phased manner in other pas of the country
Reinforcing Border Security
Prioritising reinforcing Border Security, BJP plans to further facilitate easier trade and travel from the neighbouring countries in order to ease the movement of goods and people. The party points out that already have completed building six integrated check-posts and plans to construct 14 more integrated check-posts by 2024. BJP ensures that after completion of all the proposed integrated check-posts, all trade movement with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan will be conducted through the integrated check-posts.
Zero-Tolerance Approach to Terrorism
Emphasising on national security, which is further exemplified by the Surgical Strikes and the Air Strikes carried out recently, BJP declares that the security doctrine will be guided by the national interest only and will firmly continue our policy of Zero Tolerance’ against terrorism and extremism and will continue to follow our policy of giving a free hand to our security forces in combating terrorism.
Doubling farmers’ income
The manifesto also makes a slew of assurances to the agriculture sector. In continuation with its mission to double farmers’ income, which Prime Minister Modi embarked at the very beginning of the current term, the party proposes to achieve the goal by 2022 by making an investment of Rs. 25 lakh crore to improve the productivity of the farm sector. In addition to Interest-free Kisan Credit Card loans – the party proposes to provide short-term new agriculture loans up to Rs. 1 laky at a 0% interest rate for 1-5 years on the condition of prompt repayment of the principal amount.
Welfare of Soldiers
Taking the successful implementation of OROP forward, the party promises to create a more effective framework for the resettlement of the Armed Forces veterans. Under the new initiative for the resettlement of the Armed Forces, the soldiers can start planning three years before their retirement and in accordance with their preferences. Besides, the initiative will also provide skills training, financial support for higher education, for housing and even for starting an enterprise.
Jammu & Kashmir - Article 370
As the party believes that Article 35A is an obstacle in the development of the state, it has promised annulling Article 35A of the Constitution of India as the provision is discriminatory against non-permanent residents and women of Jammu and Kashmir. The party has assured that it will take all steps to ensure a safe and peaceful environment for all residents of the state. Besides, the party has also promised to make all efforts to ensure the safe return of Kashmiri Pandits and we will provide financial assistance for the resettlement of refugees from West Pakistan, Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir (POJK) and Chhamb.
Uniform Civil Code
Article 44 of the Constitution of India lists Uniform Civil Code as one of the Directive Principles of State Policy. BJP believes that there cannot be gender equality till such time India adopts a Uniform Civil Code, which protects the rights of all women, and the BJP reiterates its stand to draft Uniform Civil Code, drawing upon the best traditions and harmonizing them with the modern times.
Reiterating its stand on Ram Mandir, BJP has assured that it 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.
Realising that agriculture is the engine of India’s largest employer, the BJP commits highest priority to agricultural growth, increase in farmers’ income and rural development. The BJP announced a slew of promises to woo various sections of the society, especially farmers, youth and women, besides the downtrodden. Also, it is very clear that in order to match Rahul Gandhi's NYAY scheme BJP has promised three key announcements - zero-interest loans to farmers for up to Rs one lakh; expanding the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Yojana to all farmers irrespective of those holding cultivable land less than 2 hectares and pension to small and marginal farmers and small shop owners in the country. Along with the promise of Rs 6,000 to all farmers, up to Rs 1 lakh interest-free loans and pensions for all farmers and small shop owners.
As part of its promise to double farmers’ incomes, the manifesto makes a slew of assurances to the agriculture sector, including a commitment to invest ?25 trillion to enhance agricultural productivity, and guarantee of short-term agricultural loans. Also it must be noted that the promise of doubling farmers’ incomes was made in 2014 and now it been extended to 2022. However, like Congress, BJP has also not mentioned any clear plan for such investment.
Besides looking at daily chore issues like poverty, income and jobs that affect the electorate, BJP continue to take up the narrative of nationalism and trying its best to use it as a main poll plank. No doubt the Indian economy is growing faster and at this stage BJP attempts to cash in on the national sentiment especially after Balakot air strike and targets the burgeoning middle class. BJP is confident of improving the economy through national security and national pride.
As far as the Citizenship Amendment Bill is concerned, BJP talks about making security and stability a sense of national pride. Though, BJP assures the protection of the socio-cultural identities of the people of the North East, at the same time The BJP’s manifesto proposes to “implement the NRC in a phased manner in other parts of the country” to combat the infiltration of illegal migrants.
The party reiterates zero tolerance towards terrorism and giving a free hand to a well-equipped armed forces to exterminate forces of terrorism.
But it lacks clarity about the whole process. Political analysts points out BJP’s earlier stand by the party on the proposal not to extend the National Register of Citizens to States other than Assam.
But, now the manifesto says, “There has been a huge change in the cultural and linguistic identity of some areas due to illegal immigration, resulting in an adverse impact on local people’s livelihood and employment. We will expeditiously complete the National Register of Citizens process in these areas on priority. In future, we will implement the NRC in a phased manner in other parts of the country.”
On its agenda on the abrogation of Article 370 and annulling Article 35A, political experts points out that while the intent cannot be questioned, the repercussions might not be ignored. It may be too strong, both sensitive as well as emotional and are bound to be invoke protests pan-India by the Opposition parties. The party need to be look at them seriously before jumping in to fulfilling its promise.
After the BJP government received severe criticism for not addressing the startups’ issues in Union Budget 2019, the party has promised to encourage the spirit of entrepreneurship among the youth and accelerate the ongoing investments and innovation in the ecosystem. The BJP has promised to launch a new scheme for entrepreneurs to provide collateral-free credit up to Rs 50 lakh and promote startups through the creation of a ‘Seed Startup Fund’ with a corpus of Rs 20,000 crore. The BJP has guaranteed 50% of the loan amount for female entrepreneurs and 25% of the loan amount for male entrepreneurs and also aims to establish 50,000 new startups in the country by 2024. However, the manifesto does not address Angel Tax, a major issue that has been plaguing the startup ecosystem but has promised that it will ease regulatory requirement for startups and reduce tax compliance burdens for startups. While creating a ‘Seed Startup Fund’ of Rs. 20,000 Crore will undoubtedly boost the falling angel investments in India. However, given the track record of Fund of Funds for startups, there is a big question mark over its implementation and efficiency.
Unlike in 2014, the party which strongly emphasised on building Ram Mandir, in 2019, it has certainly toned down its voice on the yet another sensitive issue of the construction of “Ram Mandir” at Ayodhya. While the manifesto cautiously says that the “government will expedite temple construction within the framework of the constitution”, it also touched upon the Sabarimala issue. While the Sangh and its affiliates have criticised the Supreme Court for interfering in what they called was a “matter of faith”, BJP manifesto says, “it will endeavour to secure constitutional protection on issues related to faith and belief and ensured the subject of faith, tradition and worship rituals related to Sabarimala are presented in a comprehensive manner before the apex court.