How BJP’s Poll Promises Changed Over Five Years
One change is stark in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s 2019 vision document. Five years ago, the cover of the election manifesto had Narendra Modi, then a prime ministerial aspirant, flanked by 11 chief ministers and party founders. Five years later, there’s no space for anyone but Modi the prime minister.
Besides pointing to the shift in the party’s power structure, this year’s Sankalp Patra has relegated one of Modi’s biggest promises from 2014 to just a mere mention. The pledge to crackdown against corruption now features on page 26 of the 45-page document.
Predictably, the first set of promises in the 2019 manifesto are about national security, zero-tolerance approach against terrorism and ending left-wing extremism.
The document also focuses on farmer welfare. In 2014, the manifesto briefly mentioned welfare measures for farmers above 60 years, insurance cover for crops and linking the jobs guarantee programme MNREGA to agriculture.
This time, the party promises pension for small and marginal farmers above 60 years and interest-free loan on credit card up to Rs 1 lakh for one to five years. It also pledges to extend the benefit of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana to all farmers. Investments worth Rs 25 lakh crore to the agri-rural sector is another big promise.
Job creation, a key topic this election, does not feature prominently. However, in 2014, the party had promised to make jobs central to its economic model by increasing employment through labour-intensive manufacturing, infrastructure development and tapping tourism and IT sectors. The 2019 manifesto talks about entrepreneurship and startups. The new document promises a scheme to provide collateral-free credit of up to Rs 50 lakh for entrepreneurs.
The 2014 manifesto had a few promises for Muslims—from a national madrasa modernisation programme and empowerment of Waqf Boards to promoting Urdu, among others. The 2019 version has a one-line commitment to “development with dignity” for all minorities, including Muslims, besides the promise to abolish triple talaq.
There are similarities between the two manifestos. Long-standing promises like the removal of Article 370 that grants autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir, return of Kashmiri Pandits to the valley, construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, simultaneous state and central polls and bringing a uniform civil code were made in 2014 as well.
The demand to remove Article 35A of the Constitution has also made it to the document in 2019. Some of the new ideas include pensions for farmers and shopkeepers, resolution of the Sabarimala dispute and a promise of piped water in every home by 2024.