UCC, CAA, one election in BJP’s ‘Modi ki guarantee’ manifesto | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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UCC, CAA, one election in BJP’s ‘Modi ki guarantee’ manifesto

Apr 15, 2024 05:39 AM IST

BJP releases manifesto for 2024 elections, focusing on development, welfare, and governance, with promises on social groups, sectors, and policies.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday released its manifesto for the 2024 general elections, titled “Modi ki guarantee”, outlining a vision for India’s development journey by pledging to expand its policies for welfare, social empowerment, national economic growth and for generating jobs while also nurturing ideological causes such as the implementation of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) and the development of religious centres.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday. (PTI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday. (PTI)

Released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and top leaders of the party in Delhi, the 69-page document lists guarantees for 10 social groups, including women, poor, youth and farmers; and 14 sectors, including internal and external security, education, health care, industry and rural economy.

Under each head, the BJP has assured policy intervention, implementation on the ground and saturation of schemes to ensure the party’s guiding mantra of Antyodaya, or service, to the last person in the queue is met.

As part of its good governance pledge, the party’s manifesto said it will “make one nation, one election a reality”. “We have set up a high powered committee to examine the issue of conducting simultaneous elections and will work towards the implementation of the recommendations of the committee,” it said.

Synchronising state and federal elections in the world’s largest democracy will lead to significant economic and time savings, the government has contended, but its rivals have attacked the plan as being unfeasible and not consistent with the autonomy of states.

The party also promised that it will implement the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which gives citizenship to religious minorities in neighbouring countries, a classification that covers people of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian faiths. The pledge on CAA was part of its “guarantees” for internal security, with the party stating it will implement it to “confer citizenship on eligible persons”.

The BJP, however, avoided a mention of any plans involving the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and its update in any other parts of the country — a shift from its 2019 manifesto.

Modi, at the event, said the vision of the manifesto was of fulfilling the Viksit Bharat dream. “Your aspirations are our mission. Your dreams are our responsibility. I appeal to you to support us in the upcoming elections so that our collective dream of a Viksit Bharat is realized,” Modi said in a speech at the event, in which JP Nadda, Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and Nirmala Sitharaman were present at the event.

Addressing the gathering, defence minister Rajnath Singh, who helmed the manifesto committee, said: “Modi ki guarantee is equivalent to 24 carat gold and has emerged as the gold standard of governance.”

The party, which is seeking a third term in power with a bigger mandate than before, over 400 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats along with its allies, believes the document is intended to improve the quality of life for millions who are on the fringes of the economic and social order, a leader said.

“The focus is on the middle class and poor families, there is a sentiment that this is a document that talks of taking care of families. There is something for every section, and it talks about complete welfare,” said the party functionary who was part of the manifesto drafting exercise, asking not to be named.

The party, which has managed to build a strong vote bank of the ideologically aligned as well as those who have benefitted from its welfare policies, seeks to now focus on the aspirations of the middle class and the neo-middle class, a section it claims has been pulled out of poverty in the last decade, this person added.

“Our focus will be on the aspirations of the middle class that wants its own house... on the neo middle class families that will need support and protection. So, in a well thought-through way, the focus will be on healthcare, education, food and providing them their own house,” the functionary said.

Aspiration is a recurring theme in the manifesto, as is the promise of delivery.

“In the next five years, we will take our nation into the top 3 economies of the world, launch a final and decisive assault against poverty, open up newer avenues of growth in various sectors, further intensify our battle against corruption, unveil the next generation of reforms, and take a number of pro-people decisions and actions,” Modi said.

With employment for this segment of people having become a recurring concern in the sector, the BJP refrained from specifying numbers for job-creation. It underlined efforts such as the performance linked incentives and establishment of global centres as avenues for work opportunities. “Employment linked incentive is already there. In fact, the Congress has copied the concept from us. Thanks to PLI, 22 lakh new opportunities have been created. 1.5 lakh people work in the Apple factory alone,” the functionary quoted above said in response to the opposition’s claims and criticism of the government.

At the event, Modi said the party has resolved to bring all senior citizens above 70 years of age under Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme.

The functionary quoted above added the government has taken a “360-degree view of the funding required for new initiatives”, including the announcement of extending Ayushman Bharat benefits to senior citizens. “Every suggestion and proposal was studied for budgetary demands. And we worked out the details of what administrative support including help from state governments will be required,” he said.

While there was speculation of a hike in the reimbursement for small and marginal farmers under the PM Kisan Nidhi from the existing 6,000 a year, the manifesto does not mention any increase. It does, however, promise strengthening the scheme, revising Minimum Support Price (MSP) from time to time, and creating avenues for better markets and production. The focus on farmers is particularly important, given the impact that distress in the agri sector can have on electoral outcome.

Although the government has rolled back the farm laws that saw a year-long protest in 2020; the demand for legal sanction to MSP has been a bone of contention between the farmers and the government — and it figures as a promise in the manifestos of BJP’s rivals.

The manifesto also promises review of the national floor wages and social security for gig workers, drivers and vendors. There is a concerted effort to reach out to the migrant workforce, through promises of special trains, loans and saturation of existing schemes.

The government’s handling of the migrant workers during the lockdown imposed at the beginning of the Covid pandemic had drawn sharp criticism from the opposition and civil society. Disturbing images of men, women and children walking over long distances in the absence of transport gave the opposition a chance to train its guns at the government.

Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBCs continue to remain at the centre of the government’s outreach. The manifesto talks about protecting their heritage and culture and improving their socio-economic status and expanding livelihood opportunities for them.

To enhance internal security, the manifesto promises enhanced infrastructure along the borders, robust cyber security, and a national forensic mission.

Party leaders, however, declined to comment on the silence on the issue of NRC. In 2019, it had stated in its manifesto: “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.”

On the foreign policy front, the manifesto makes a mention of how India has emerged as the voice of the global south by using PM’s vision of samman, samvad, shayog shanti and Samriddhi (translate). The party, which claims to have adopted a muscular foreign policy, talked about continuing to push for consensus on fighting terror, developing strategic partnerships for mineral security, following the policy of neighbourhood first.

In his address, BJP President JP Nadda expressed confidence that the ‘Modi ki Guarantee’ Sankalp Patra has captured the essence of aspirations of all Indians.

“Sankalp Patra has the manifestation of these political principles. The party has advocated for integral humanism and implemented it through initiatives like Antyodaya, working for inclusive development under the motto of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas aur Sabka Prayas,” he said.

The opposition Congress said the manifesto is filled with “empty promises”. “Today, people want to ask what happened in the last 10 years,” Congress lawmaker Manish Tewari said. “Unemployment is rampant and inflation has broken the back of common people. The people of the country will hold him (Modi) to account for what’s happened in the last 10 years.”

The Aam Aadmi Party called the BJP’s manifesto a “jumla patra”, alleging that the document presents a clear picture of promises “not fulfilled” by the BJP in the last 10 years. “The Prime Minister has announced the ‘Jumla Patra’ (document of rhetoric) of his party for 2024 elections. It presents a clear picture of the unfulfilled promises of the BJP in the last 10 years,” senior AAP leader Atishi said at a press conference.

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