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Development, welfare focus in BJP manifesto as ruling party shuns populism

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STATE TIMES NEWS

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a pitch for electing a strong and stable government in an uncertain world beset by geopolitical tensions as the BJP on Sunday released its manifesto, prioritising development and welfare while shunning populist measures and contentious issues like the NRC.
Named “Modi ki Guarantee”, the manifesto largely builds on the government’s existing welfare schemes targeted at different sections of society, while reiterating the BJP’s commitment to roll out one-nation-one-election and Uniform Civil Code, two issues mentioned in its 2019 manifesto too. The government has taken some concrete steps for their implementation.
The BJP promised to include all senior citizens above the age of 70 years in the ‘Ayushman Bharat’ scheme, which provides health insurance of up to Rs 5 lakh.
It also spoke of considering bullet trains in north, south and east India and expanding “new age” trains like Vande Bharat, Amrit Bharat and Namo Bharat.
Promising to strengthen the sports ecosystem to make India a world leader in sports, the BJP manifesto – Sankalp Patra – said its government will facilitate the Indian Olympic Association to bid for hosting the Olympic Games in 2036.
The party also promised to continue efforts to remove the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in a phased manner in the northeast states and leverage the region as a strategic gateway for the “Act East” policy.
It underscored the commitment to defending India’s citizens and interests at “home and abroad from all threats of terrorism” as it cited surgical and air strikes during the first term of the Modi government to highlight its zero-tolerance.
Modi gave the first copies of the manifesto to a few beneficiaries of his government’s schemes at the function organised at the BJP headquarters here.
Touching on its cultural agenda after having fulfilled its decades-old promise of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, the BJP said its government will undertake “significant new projects” across the country to develop religious and tourist sites inspired by the Kashi Vishwanath corridor model.
It promised holistic development of Ayodhya, the establishment of “Bharatiya Sanskriti Kosh” for preservation of ancient civilizational traditions and culture and promoting “wed in India” by developing select destinations as wedding venues.
The manifesto promises are categorised under 10 social groups, including the poor, middle class, women, youth, senior citizens, farmers, fishermen, labourers, traders and traditionally deprived sections like the SC and ST, and 14 issues, including secure India, prosperous India and ease of living in cities among others.
As has been its recent practice, the party has chosen to refer to the country as Bharat in the manifesto.
The Sankalp Patra, released by Modi, party president J P Nadda and other senior leaders including Union ministers Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh, however, omitted any mention of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which the BJP promised in 2019 to combat infiltration but had put on the back burner following protests.
In his speech, Modi dwelt largely on his vision for boosting the country’s development, asserting that the manifesto reflects the aspirations of a young India with its focus on quality and dignity of life and creating opportunities, both quantitatively and qualitatively high, for the young population.
He noted that the world is full of uncertainties amid conflicts and the safety of Indians living in such a situation is the government’s priority.
At such a time, there is a need for a strong and stable government having a full majority, he said.
The manifesto, in its outreach to the poor, highlights the government’s decision to continue with the free ration scheme for over 80 crore people for the next five years and vows to protect the “garib ki thali” against any price pressure.
It promises to expand the housing scheme for them and provide them with free electricity with its solar rooftop scheme.
For the middle class, it offered several measures to fulfil their dream of owning a house, creating high-value jobs and improved infrastructure for living.
The ruling party highlighted the government’s efforts to empower three crore rural women to become “Lakhpati Didis” and underscored its commitment to their greater participation in sports and to building and maintaining public toilets for them.
To the youth, it promised strict implementation of the recently enacted law against paper leaks, boosting the start-up ecosystem and ensuring employment opportunities.
“We will further strengthen our efforts to make Bharat the global hub for high-value services by establishing more global capability centres, global tech centres and global engineering centres,” it said.
The Mudra loan limit will also be hiked to Rs 20 lakh, it said.
The BJP said its government will support farmers to make India self-reliant in the production of pulses and edible oil and promote millets as superfood.
Better living conditions in cities have also found a place among the BJP’s promises with the party assuring voters of affordable housing, new satellite townships, ease of mobility, developing sustainable cities, improved air quality and removing open landfills in cities.
The manifesto highlights the BJP government’s Gaganyaan mission, India’s first human spaceflight project, and said it will land an astronaut on the Moon as well.
A BJP government will take more steps to facilitate fiscal autonomy and sustainability of Panchayati Raj Institutions, it said.
Other promises that the manifesto makes include world-class infrastructure, including in railways, road and aviation sectors, besides positioning the country as a global manufacturing hub.
The government will work to make India a leader in automobile and EV manufacturing, build a globally competitive food processing industry, and promote the country as a hub in railway and aviation manufacturing, and shipbuilding, it said.
Speaking of digital infrastructure, it said, “We will expand the 5G network and take the lead in the development of 6G technology.”
The opposition Congress in its manifesto has promised a legal guarantee to the Minimum Support Price, Rs 1 lakh for every poor family and cashless health insurance of up to Rs 25 lakh, a massive scaling-up of cash-intensive welfarism as the opposition party looks to woo people.
The BJP has, however, stuck to building on and expanding its existing welfare measures and has not touched on issues like a legal guarantee for the MSP or caste quota.
The Congress has promised to lift the 50 per cent quota cap. The BJP has highlighted its welfare works for the SC, ST and OBC communities in its ten years in power, asserting that it will continue with its “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” approach.
The current central government has 60 per cent of ministers from these communities, it noted.
The BJP chose the birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar, the iconic leader from the Dalit community and architect of the Indian Constitution, to unveil its manifesto.
On the Uniform Civil Code, the BJP said, “There cannot be gender equality till such time Bharat adopts a Uniform Civil Code which protects the rights of all women.” “The BJP reiterates its stand to draw a Uniform Civil Code, drawing upon the best traditions and harmonising them with the modern times,” the manifesto said.

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