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BJP manifesto offers heady mix of nationalism, development; shows party hasn't forgotten its core support base

Those who though that the BJP’s 'Sankalp Patra' for 2019 parliamentary polls would carry something in terms of offering a greater dole for greater mass of Indian population to counter Congress’ Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY) or Minimum Basic Income Scheme (MBIS) would be disappointed that it didn’t contain anything of that sort. The party did promise pension for senior citizens from the farming community, removal of ceiling of five acres to compensate farmers' input to the tune of Rs 6,000 per year, overhaul of GST and some benefits for small businessmen and traders but that was short of details to qualify for what are called populist promises.

There is no ready data available, but given the fact that population boom in India led to fragmentation of land holdings, the number of individual farmers owning two hectares or five acres of land would be small. The quiet inclusion of this section in PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojna (PMKSNY) has bigger political significance — this section may be small but this is a section of influential persons of dominant castes in rural areas. Not only do they tilt opinion balance, they often influence voting pattern in their respective domain.

 BJP manifesto offers heady mix of nationalism, development; shows party hasnt forgotten its core support base

File image of Narendra Modi. PTI

The "left out" feeling may not have augured well for BJP and the Narendra Modi government in the Lok Sabha Election 2019. According to BJP manifesto committee chairman and home minister Rajnath Singh, the removal of two hectare ceiling for the beneficiaries of PMKSNY was done at the behest of the prime minister.

The BJP leadership chose to broadly focus on two things or a mix of two broad things — first, party or Sangh Parivar’s ideological moorings on nationalism with all its contours, strong military, strong security infrastructure, abrogation of Article 370 relating to special status to Jammu and Kashmir, removal of Article 35A from the Constitution relating to property right in Kashmir, exploring possibilities of construction of Ram temple, Uniform Civil Code, protecting cultural heritage and so on.

Second, the stress on ideologically neutral issue of development, make India $5 trillion economy by 2025 and $10 trillion economy by 2032, eight percent plus growth rate for next five years, mission mode on water, mega investment in agriculture and building infrastructure and time bound fulfillment of 75 promises on 75th anniversary of Indian Independence in 2022.

The reiteration of core ideological issues at length in the manifesto is a message to the party and Sangh Parivar’s support base that after being in power for five years and while seeking another five year term in office it has neither forgotten, nor has deviated from its beliefs which for all these decades have been binding force for the saffron Parivar. The Vajpayee government in 2004 had suffered a perception loss even among its traditional support base and consequent election because it was felt that it had deviated from its core values of Hindutava and nationalism.

By making a heady mix of nationalism and development, the BJP sought to tell the masses and its critics that development and nationalism were, in fact, complementary to each other, not antidote to each other.

The BJP believes that it is going to comfortably return to power and thus it was important for it to make promises which was consistent with actual deliverable situations, as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said "it’s a sankalp (vow) of a government which is going to continue in power".

Four leaders Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley who spoke before Modi stressed on issues of nationalism, how “nation first” was important for nation’s advancement, unity and integrity. Jaitley said that “in a season of manifestos, it is not prepared with 'tukde tukde' mindset, is not prepared with Ivy league mindset, it is prepared with strong nationalist mindset rooted in Indian realities".

Jaitley compared the situation between 2014 and 2019, from cynicism, gloom, corruption, indecisiveness and policy paralysis to hope and a government which was decisive and delivered goods to people. Today, development of “deterrent” is India's best defence in cyber space and outer space, striking terror at heart of it and rejects idea of Balkanisation (reference to Congress manifesto), the finance minister said adding that it was clear what kind of government people would like to elect.

Sushma Swaraj called the Lok Sabha Election 2019 as a fight between “appeasement and public delivery”.

The way Modi shaped his speech was noteworthy. He didn’t go on issues of nationalism or indulged in any kind of rhetoric. He simply said whatever the speaker before him said. He was putting his signature to that and went ahead about talking of his vision of future India. He talked about how he would like India to celebrate and dedicate 75 years of Indian independence in 2022, even going to 100 years of Indian Independence 2047, in the league of developed nations, in the league of super powers.

Modi talked only about development and how his government (believing that he would be re-elected) would take the course, making belief in “development a mass movement”. He knows that people overwhelmingly voted for him in 2014 because he generated vote and would vote for him again in 2019 if he is able to stand on count of delivery and sustain that popular hope generated in him. He thus keeps on talking about the developmental aspects, building toilets, cleanliness campaign, electricity and gas connection to every household, direct benefit transfer, housing to poor and so on.

From that delivery plank, Modi said that India missed the opportunity of welcoming the 21st Century with the right ideas and right delivery mechanism. People say the 21st Century would be of Asia, the question is should India lead it, he asked.

The 45-page BJP manifesto for the 2019 parliamentary polls concludes with a quote and a picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “The nation will never stop, never bow before anything, never get tired, we have to scale new heights... achieve enormous progress in years to come."

He is also on the cover of this document.

Your guide to the latest election news, analysis, commentary, live updates and schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on firstpost.com/elections. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates from all 543 constituencies for the upcoming general elections.

Updated Date: Apr 08, 2019 23:55:01 IST

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