The BJP finally released its 2014 manifesto Monday, and the document came with a definite imprint of the party’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, including three personal assurances by him — to work hard to the end, to never act in “bad faith”, and to never act out of self interest.
In fact, the manifesto is so closely based on Modi’s views that it seems like an expanded version of a document titled ‘Vision of Modi’ that was widely circulated at a BJP strategy meeting in January.
Several sections of the manifesto were also a throwback to the promises the party had made in Gujarat before the 2012 assembly elections.
“The party has entrusted me with a certain responsibility. I want to make three promises personally — I will never be found wanting on hard work, I will not do anything for myself and I will not do anything with bad intent,” Modi said at the launch of the much-awaited election document.
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The idea of starting an IIT and an AIIMS in all states, a ‘Beti Bachao’ programme, building 100 smart cities besides focusing on twin cities and satellite cities, a golden quadrilateral of bullet trains – christened diamond quadrilateral in the manifesto – a price stabilisation fund to check inflation, a national agriculture market, preventive healthcare for all, besides the interlinking of rivers, were all part of Modi’s “vision”.
Even Modi’s focus on “Brand India”, which emphasises on what he calls the 5Ts – talent, trade, tradition, tourism and technology – finds a place in the manifesto.
While stopping short of announcing a special package for West Bengal and Bihar, the manifesto talks of regional disparities between the western and eastern parts of India, just like Modi has been.
One of Modi’s newer ideas, expressed at an interaction with lawyers led by Ram Jethmalani, of developing India into a “global hub for arbitration and legal process outsourcing” is a part of the BJP’s plans to overhaul the judicial system.
The manifesto also seemed to borrow liberally from the promises the party had made in the poll document for the 2012 Gujarat Assembly elections, including adopting the Gujarati slogan ‘Sauno Saath, Sauna Vikaas’ to the 2014 Hindi slogan of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’.
The national manifesto promises to protect the cow and its progeny just as the 2012 Gujarat manifesto did.
“In view of the contribution of cow and its progeny to agriculture, socio-economic and cultural life of our country, the department of animal husbandry will be suitably strengthened and empowered for the protection of cow and its progeny. Necessary legal framework will be created to protect and promote cow and its progeny. A National Cattle Development Board will be set up to implement a programme for the improvement of indigenous livestock breeds,” the document released Monday said.
On e-governance, the 2014 manifesto promises that the government will directly reach out to the people through pro-active, pro-people, good governance; digitise government records to make them easily available; and implement Gujarat’s ‘E-Gram, Vishwa Gram’ scheme nationwide.
The 2012 manifesto said Gujarat had earned global recognition through its mantra of pro-active, pro-people, good governance; promised to make available a digital copy of all government records at the panchayat level and strengthen the panchayat system with the help of ‘E-Gram, Vishwa Gram’.
Focusing on minorities and equal opportunities, the 2014 manifesto says minority educational systems and institutions will be strengthened and modernised and a national madrasa modernisation programme will be initiated. The Gujarat manifesto had also promised to improve the quality of education at madrasas by introducing technology and modernising them.
While the 2014 manifesto talks about middle-income housing, medical insurance and quality healthcare services for the “neo middle class”, the Gujarat manifesto had promised ‘Ghar Nu Ghar’ (own your home) for this group under the ‘Mukhya Mantri Garib Shehri Gruh Samrudhi Yojana’ and free treatment for up to Rs 2 lakh under the ‘Mukhyamantri Amrutam Yojana’ for cancer and serious illnesses related to the heart, kidney and brain.
Both manifestos also promise to develop twin cities and satellite towns, boosting urban transport systems, providing public wi-fi services and a focus on urban poverty alleviation programmes. They also talk about encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship among youths through special training programmes.
Backed with a manifesto that articulates his worldview, Modi promised good governance and all-inclusive, nationwide development that will pull India out from the “ditch of despondency and inaction” he said it is currently stuck in.
He said the manifesto is not an election ritual but “our direction, our goal and our commitment”. Indicating a “zero tolerance” on internal and external security, Modi said the need of the hour is to bring a “strong government in New Delhi”.
“No one should be able to bully India…we should be able to look everyone in the eye, others should want to talk to us,” Modi said, as party president Rajnath Singh and even senior leader L K Advani rallied behind him.
Reinforcing the predominance and acceptability of Modi, Rajnath said that when the BJP projected him as its PM candidate, many political parties treated him as an “untouchable” in politics and claimed that no other leader had faced as much criticism as Modi.
Today, Rajnath said, as many as 25 political parties had allied with the party.