India: The main takeaways from BJP’s manifesto

Al Jazeera tries to explain the main poll promises made by the ruling party days before general elections.

Indian PM Narendra Modi and chief of India''s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Amit Shah, display copies of their party''s election manifesto for the April/May general election in New Delhi
Indian Prime Minister Modi and chief of the ruling party Amit Shah display copies of their party's election manifesto [Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

New Delhi, India – India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday released its election manifesto, just days before the country’s general election.

The Hindu nationalist party outlined 75 milestones in its manifesto, which it promises to achieve in the next few years if voted back to power.

“Nationalism is our inspiration,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the release of the BJP manifesto at the party headquarters in New Delhi.

Among the promises are some of the BJP’s core issues, including the abrogation of Article 370 that grants Jammu and Kashmir state a special status within the Indian union.

Here are the main takeaways from the newly released manifesto.

Article 35A and Article 370

The BJP has proposed to abrogate Article 370 of the constitution, which gives special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

It also promises to scrap Article 35A, which empowers the Jammu and Kashmir state’s legislature to define “permanent resident” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to those permanent residents, which are excluded for non-permanent residents.

Removal of Article 35A would allow non-residents to buy land in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Sheikh Showkat, a Srinagar-based political commentator and law professor, said that there is nothing new in the BJP’s mentioning of abrogation of Article 370 in their election manifesto.

“They (the BJP) keep certain things in their manifesto despite the fact that it is impossible for them to do away with them or accomplish them,” Showkat told Al Jazeera.

“They are just trying to polarise the Hindu vote in their favour,” he said.

“I don’t understand why they have mentioned Article 35A, which is part of Article 370.”

Construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya

The BJP in its manifesto reiterated its stance for supporting the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh.

“We reiterate our stand to explore all possibilities within the framework of the Constitution to facilitate the construction of a Ram Temple in Ayodhya,” the manifesto reads.

Political analyst and academic Sanjay Kumar told Al Jazeera that he is not surprised that the issue of Article 370 and Ram temple is mentioned in the BJP’s manifesto.

“It has become a compulsion for the BJP to mention these issues in the manifesto otherwise people will start asking questions what happened to these issues,” Kumar, a professor at Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi, said.

33-percent female quota in Parliament

The BJP promised to reserve 33 percent of seats in Parliament and state assemblies for women through a constitutional amendment, if it returns to power.

The manifesto said that the women’s welfare and development would be accorded high priority at all levels within the government.

Secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, Kavita Krishnan, told Al Jazeera that the pledge was merely “lip service”.

“They had the power to implement this in the last five years and they had absolute majority, still they did not table it,” Krishnan said.

Increasing farmers income and revising income tax brackets

The party also promised farmers, who have taken to the streets several times over the past few years, that their income would be doubled by 2022.

The party had promised in 2014 to double farmers’ income and on Monday, it pledged to exert all efforts to achieve this goal by 2022.

The BJP also pledged to revise income tax brackets to help the middle class if the party retained power in the upcoming election.

Food policy analyst, Devinder Sharma, told Al Jazeera that the party had pledged to raise farmers’ incomes in the past and to date had not taken concrete steps to achieve that.

“All what this government has been able to achieve is zero increase in the real income of the farmers,” Sharma said.

Commenting on the pledge to revise income tax laws, economist and business expert, Akash Jindal, said the pledge would be a positive step.

“If the middle class is given taxation concessions, it can work wonders for the economy because what would happen is that purchasing power would increase,” Jindal told Al Jazeera.

If executed, the pledge would boost India’s economy and would decrease deficit, Jindal noted.

Source: Al Jazeera