Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Manifesto as old hat


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The BJP manifesto released on Sunday fails to impress. On the positive side, it was conceived on a realistic platform; and it did not go overboard in offering baits to the voters. To that extent, it lacks any surprises. Rather, the ruling party’s attempt to seek votes for a third consecutive term is tempered by a sense of care for the nation’s coffers. At the same time, the party failed to come up with a new agenda. The promises are mostly along the beaten tracks, as in the offers to implement the One Nation One Poll plan, the Uniform Civil Code and Citizenship Amendment Act. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been saying these since the first term of his governance.
The manifesto styled as Sankalp Patra claims the aim is to empower all four strong pillars of developed India – youth, women, poor and farmers. This classification itself is old hat. From Independence, this has been the refrain of successive governments and parties. The poor are mostly where they were; and the farmers’ real problems have not been addressed to a large extent in the past 10 years of the Modi government. Even crop insurance against natural calamities is more on paper; leave alone remunerative prices for farm produce. The offer to provide free ration to BPL families for five more years too is rather a “promise” that the existing system will not be discontinued. What’s new is a promise to provide free electricity to poor households. When India lavishes itself on multiple fronts, lighting a bulb or a tube free at home must be the minimum that’s on offer to the hapless poor. Some state governments are already doing this. As for the North East, the BJP government would “continue to address” issues of the disturbed areas, aim to remove AFSPA in a phased manner and attempts will be made to resolve interstate border disputes among the NE states.
An offer is for continued efforts to strengthen the foundations of India through Social Infrastructure, Digital Infrastructure and Physical Infrastructure. Under social infra, more educational institutions; under physical infra, modernization of highways, railways, airways and waterways; under digital, expansion of the 5G network and progress on 6G. These are all works that are already in progress. There’s less on industrial development, a requirement for job creations on a large scale. A promise is that the loan amount under Mudra Yojana would be raised from `10 lakh to `20 lakh. And, a bait to the elderly – that those above age 75 will be brought under the purview of the Ayushman Bharat Scheme; and this for transgender community too. Question is, why have these segments been excluded from the scheme so far.


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