Kasmein & Vaade: What BJP & Congress Are Promising This Election
Kashmir, Northeast, terrorism, women’s issues, healthcare & jobs — here’s what BJP & Congress manifestos had to say.
Video Editor: Vishal Kumar
Ready, get set, go! The 2019 general elections are finally here, and both BJP and Congress have come out with their manifestos. But whose manifesto says what? What do they say on jobs? Or national security? Here’s all you need to know.
1. On Kashmir
BJP has reiterated its position on the abrogation of Article 370, annulling Article 35A as they believe it “is discriminatory against non-permanent residents and women of J&K.” They have said they will ensure the safe return of Kashmiri Pandits and will provide financial assistance for resettlement of refugees from West Pakistan, POJK & Chhamb.
In its manifesto, the Congress says that nothing will be done or allowed to change in Article 370. Congress talks about three interlocutors from civil society to facilitate talks, reviewing AFSPA, and ensuring free and fair elections. Interestingly, the Congress manifesto also expresses concern over the harassment of Kashmiri students across India, seen in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack.
Apart from reviewing AFSPA, Congress also proposes to omit the Sedition Law, ie: Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, and make defamation a ‘civil’ offence (as opposed to a criminal one). The BJP has no mention of these in their manifesto.
2. On the Northeast
BJP has reinforced its position on enacting the Citizenship Amendment Bill. They say they will clarify issues raised by sections of the population in the Northeastern states.
On the other hand, Congress wants to withdraw the Citizenship Amendment Bill. They have promised to ensure that no category is denied inclusion in the final NRC and to restore Special Category status to the Northeastern states.
3. On Terrorism
In its manifesto, BJP has come out with a “Nation First” motto. Citing surgical strikes and the Balakot airstrikes, BJP has said that its security doctrine is guided by national interest only. BJP remains committed to nationalism and zero tolerance towards terrorism, with a free-hand policy to the armed forces to deal with militants.
Congress talks about focusing on internal security through intelligence, analysis and quick response. Its manifesto proposes to establish the National Counter-Terrorism Centre, which they promise will be set up in three months, and NATGRID, which will be made operational by December 2019.
A unique promise that BJP has is to reiterate its stand on Ram Mandir and has said that it will explore all possibilities within the framework of the Constitution to construct the Ram Temple.
4. On Farmers
BJP has promised to give yearly income support of Rs 6,000 to all farmers under the Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme and to spend Rs 25 lakh crore on rural development in the next five years. It has also pledged to double the income of farmers by 2022 and give pensions to small and marginal farmers above 60 years of age.
On the other hand, Congress has promised a separate “Kisan budget” to give priority to issues affecting farmers. In addition, they are proposing to make farm debt a civil liability and not proceeded under criminal offence. The manifesto also promises to direct insurance companies to offer crop insurance and charge premiums on the principle of ‘no profit, no loss.’
Apart from farmer-specific policies, Congress has also proposed a Minimum Income Support Programme (MISP) or Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY). This scheme is targeted at 5 crore families who constitute the poorest 20 percent. These families will be given Rs 72,000 a year.
5. On Jobs
Congress has said that it will fill all 4 lakh Central government and institutional vacancies before March 2020. It also says it will create an estimated 10 lakh ‘seva mitra’ positions in every gram panchayat and urban local body. Interestingly, the manifesto takes forward the MGNREGA scheme by increasing the guaranteed days of employment to 150 from the existing 100 days.
In its manifesto, BJP mentions that Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) who belong to non-reserved category will be represented and have access to government jobs and higher-education through the 10% EWS reservation announced recently.
6. On Women’s Issues
Congress has also promised to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill. They have also promised to enforce Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 that allows the same wage to both men and women for similar work. The manifesto also says the party will amend the Service Rules to reserve for women 33% of appointments to posts in the Central Government and a comprehensive review of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplaces Act, 2013 which will extend the Act to all workplaces.
The BJP has committed to 33% reservation in Parliament and state Assemblies through a Constitutional amendment. They have also proposed a ‘Women in Workforce’ roadmap to increase female workforce participation rate over the next five years. Their manifesto also says the party will legislate a Bill to prohibit and eliminate practices such as Triple Talaq and Nikah Halala.
7. On Healthcare
Congress has promised to enact the Right to Healthcare Act to provide healthcare services to every citizen. It has also promised to promote AYUSH, the Indian system of medicine, in the provision of healthcare services.
BJP has made no new promises, but its manifesto mentions taking Health and Wellness Centres to the next level by setting up 1,50,000 of these centres by 2022. The manifesto also mentions preparing an essential devices list and a separate pricing policy for medical devices
Another unique suggestion by the BJP is to hold simultaneous elections for Parliament, State assemblies and local bodies to reduce expenditure. The party will try to build consensus on this issue.
Clearly, both manifestos are indicators of two different ideologies; with both documents espousing a different vision for India. Which India will the voter choose? We’ll have to wait till 23 May to find out.
(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.