Indian elections have, over a period of time, become tantamount to selling dreams. Pre-poll promises are smartly crafted and then a path of retraction is adopted or more time is solicited.
The same holds true with the saffron party taking into account an impartial stocktaking of its track record. The party has come a long way in relying on one-man’s charismatic leadership despite the overt failures committed by him.
A cursory glance over the Bhartiya Janata Party’s (BJP) manifesto unveils some positive developments in the right direction such as the party’s pledge towards doubling down the income of the farmers and giving them short-term loans at a zero interest rate and investing a whopping ₹25 lakh crore to enhance the productivity of the farm sector. Undoubtedly, these are progressive developments but not enough to address the existing serious farm distress.
Indian farmers, in my view, need a sustained flow of income and a limited income generated with farm produce is not enough for them to meet up their daily expenses. The Congress manifesto which vows to put back the essential emphasis on 100 days (and now has been proposed to 150 days of the guaranteed work) guaranteed work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) and its flagship NYAY (minimum income guarantee scheme) scheme, which promises an unconditional cash flow to the accounts of the poorest families constituting the bottom 20% (five crore) of the populace, is a welcome step and will go a long way in alleviating the farm misery.
But this needs an honest implementation as India lacks a robust delivery mechanism.
Besides, the political parties need to focus on long term solutions such as bringing industrialization closer to the hinterland and promoting and financing the small enterprises in rural areas especially the remote ones which don’t have access to the markets.
Another area which is not adequately addressed by the BJP is unemployment. The poll document suggests that the party will create job opportunities for the youth, encourage start-ups, grant them with Mudra loans, and encourage them to participate in urban governance through large-scale internship programs. But a brief analysis of the BJP’s current stint would disclose the failures of the party on all fronts.
One could take a cue from poorly implemented demonetization of November 2016 and hastily introduced Goods and Services Tax (GST) in July 2017 and how they led to the destruction of the small businesses in India.
An overall analysis of the BJP manifesto reveals some disturbing facts: the Party relies heavily on its hyper-nationalism, majoritarian Hindu culture, right-wing ideology, it’s silent on radical groups who were on a free spree and never shied away in disturbing peace and tranquillity. The party maintains a studious silence on how to deal with those people who openly lynch anyone on the suspicion of the storing beef or transporting the cattle from one place to the other.
The manifesto reiterates its old positions on the contentious issues such as Ram Mandir in Ayodhya and abrogation of “Article 370” and annulment of Article 35 (A) and maintaining a ‘no entry rule’ for menstruating women in Sabarimala Temple and the introduction of Universal Civil Code. These are radical issues which allow the Saffron party to stay afloat even in adverse circumstances. These are the issues which are often flagged off by the Party to take refuge against its failures on socio-economic indicators and its dereliction to rein-in radical elements.
Despite being aware of adverse turmoil it will create in Valley, the BJP has reiterated that it would like to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. The BJP stand, in this regard, has brought divisive opposition parties in the Valley together and forced them to issue a stern warning against any such move.
In her scathing remark, former Chief Minister Mehboba Mufti said, “J&K is explosive. If you ignite it, neither J&K would remain neither India. The entire region will burn.”
In his statement, the J&K Congress President Ghulam Ahmad Mir said: “The BJP has nothing to offer to the people and now they are raking these issues. Our party has given the Article 370 and we are going to defend it at all the costs.”
But the saffron party will not shy away in manifesting its strict, militaristic and harsh posture towards the special status of J&K in order to gain political mileage in its core constituency of upper caste Hindus.
Similarly, the BJP’s manifesto has shown its willingness to continue with its controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 despite all the disturbances, turmoil and agitation it had created in the northeast region and Assam state.
To sum up, I sincerely wish that the BJP, if voted to power, should fulfil its constitutional mandate and work honestly for inclusive growth and cultural harmony to take India to the newer horizons of the development. India ought to remain loyal for its constitutional morality and democratic credentials.