BJP which has set out aiming for a second term with the slogan 'Modi once again', released its manifesto on Monday. The 45-page 'sankalp-patra' (vision document), highlighting the theme of 'Sankalp Bharat Sashakt Bharat' ('determined bharat, strong bharat') and containing all ingredients of development and national security and states goals like doubling of farmer income next year, home for all by 2020, drinking water for all by 2024, high-speed optical fibre network linking all panchayats by 2022, comprehensive road expansion projet connectding all educational-health centres and markets. The document beginning with 'nation first' slogan, assures zero tolerance towards terrorism and promises boosting of defence capability through increased purchase of arms.
The manifesto promises that every effort will be made within the framework of the constitution for construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya, it will bring before the Supreme Court all aspects related to Sabarimala temple's beliefs and traditions and that it will endeavour for a uniform civil code. In the 75th anniversary year of the country, 75 programmes of development have also found a place in the document.
Coming close on the heels of the Congress manifesto, which promises of several welfare schemes, the BJP manifesto in a way seeks to outdo the former. But the incumbent BJP's presentation of a manifesto before the electorate while seeking a second term, will not be so effortless or sincere as an opposition1's presentation. When the BJP released in 2014 a manifesto, which in many ways is similar to this year's with comparable slogans and pledges, the Centre was ruled by Manmohan Singh's Congress, which through its two terms had fed up the people with its misrule and enraged them with its corruption. The Congress-led UP that time wobbled and fell in the popular trial based on performance thereto bogged down by the question what they did to implement the pledges in their manifesto.
BJP has been dismissing in contempt the new Congress manifesto as an impossible set of fantasies. But the BJP is coming to the fore at a time when they are a big zero in governance, people are watching and experiencing their misrule and disaster that would surpass the former Congress government's. In the process the incumbent party is also indulging in self-praise about the current government and pouring new promises while seeking its continuity. The 'sankalp patra', which can be called a rehash of its previous version, testifies to the fact that it brings no other gain than giving some comfort to the sang parivar cadre.
The 52-page BJP manifesto released in 2014 by the then prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, had contained the three sources of energy of the sangh parivar entity as a party, i.e. construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya, repeal of Article 370 that gives special powers to Jammu-Kashmir and uniform civil code. It held up good governance and inclusive development under the slogans 'One India, Glorious India' ('Ek Bharat, Shresht Bharat') 'With all, Growth for All' (Sab ka saath, sab ka vikaas'). Murali Manohar Joshi, then a front leader of the party, also declared that under the strong leadership of Modi, who can achieve anything, we will convert this country to a glorious nation.
However, what the Modi government displayed over the last five years is a spectacle of autocracy, throwing to the winds the poll promises to the attic, as now being done to the then bragging MM Joshi. The adventure of demonetisation, introduced ostensibly to stop black money and terrorism and to purge the economy, alone will suffice as an example of messing up the country. Not only that none of the declared objectives of note-ban could be achieved, it even pulled the country back by several strides. India, which went down in GDP by 1.5 per cent, suffered a loss of Rs 2.25 lakh Crore on that count alone.
Note-ban caused a loss of 15 lakh jobs across the country, and led to the closure of thousands of small-scale industries, in addition to denial of livelihood of 15 crore daily wage earners. On the other hand, while in the year before the note-ban, 387 were killed in terror attacks, in 2016 – the year of demonetisation - it became 467 and was 465 in 2017. Terrorist attacks, right from Uri to Pulwama, took place after that. And 105 people died while standing in queue to convert their own saving into the new currency. The prime miniser, who at that time said it would be set right in 50 days or else people could handle him, later retracted from that and took out the card of switching to digital economy as the goal of note-ban. But that too floundered. Finally, the most recent change of tack by Modi shows that he himself has come to realize the blunders of the government.
Modi had given a promise that in 60 months he could achieve for the country what the Congress had achieved in 60 years. But what Modi asked last week in a campaign speech in Bihar was how he could complete in five years what the Congress could not in 70 years, virtually crying off. In short, with all this, despite faltering on all fronts, the BJP has copied to its new manifesto all empty promises it made in the previous general election. In the place of the Modi team and leading figures of the party standing the limelight last time, in the 2019 manifesto it is all Modi, giving an inkling of a future autocracy.