Pitch for continuity: On the BJP manifesto for the General election 2024

The BJP manifesto is as focused on achievements as on promises 

April 16, 2024 12:30 am | Updated 02:07 pm IST

In its manifesto for the 2024 general election, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has sought a popular mandate for a third consecutive term under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The party’s campaign is based primarily on its track record of the previous two terms. It has underscored its achievements in terms of the advancement of a core ideological agenda and governance promises, while making the case for a third term. The special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 was undone, and the Ram temple in Ayodhya was inaugurated during the second term of Mr. Modi. A third component of the core programme of the BJP, namely, implementation of a Uniform Civil Code, has been promised in the third term. The manifesto has a catalogue of measures already implemented by the BJP, which include the ongoing free grain scheme that covers two-thirds of the population, piped drinking water, and other anti-poverty programmes, particularly in housing. The manifesto claims that 25 crore people have been lifted out of poverty during the last two terms of governance. Criminalisation of triple talaq is also cited as an achievement. The manifesto cites the expanded representation of Other Backward Classes, tribal communities and Dalits in government — 60% of the outgoing Council of Ministers, according to the manifesto — as proof of the commitment to social justice.

In its pitch for a third term, the BJP argues that continuity of a strong, stable government is essential in steering the country through a period of global instability. It also promises the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the law for women’s reservations in the third term. The party steers clear of any view regarding the demand for a caste census — which is a promise in the Congress manifesto — but makes a mention of the 10% reservation that it implemented for the Economically Weaker Sections. The key new promise that it makes for a third term is a health-care guarantee worth up to ₹5 lakh for senior citizens. In a notable departure, there is no reference in the manifesto for a National Register of Citizens, a contentious topic. Apart from the emphasis on Mr. Modi’s personal appeal — the entire manifesto is titled ‘Modi’s Guarantee’ — the BJP is making an appeal to the Gramin, Yuva, Annadata, Nari and Middle Class (GYANM) segment, which refers to rural areas, youth, farmers, women and the new middle class. The manifesto documents the BJP’s strategy and vision which indicates continuity in the trajectory of India set during the last 10 years. After two terms, the BJP had to necessarily recount its welfare schemes and other achievements, but as a party in power, its promises should have been more substantive. The voters will necessarily weigh the promises in the backdrop of the achievements.

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