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BJP Could’ve Helped Itself By Taking a Leaf Out Of Cong Manifesto

BJP just lost a golden opportunity to address key issues in its Sankalp Patra, losing out to Cong’s manifesto.

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A week prior to the release of the BJP’s ‘Sankalp Patra’, the Congress released its ‘Hum Nibhayenge’ election manifesto. Even as many called the BJP’s election manifesto ‘lacklustre’, the Congress’ manifesto was praised for its “delivery” approach – that come what may, they will deliver on their promises, and will be accountable.

The Congress manifesto is a reminder on many counts: a reminder that in India, it is difficult to extradite a scamster who has taken off with millions, but a poor farmer who owes a few thousands can be dragged off by the cops. A reminder that frying pakoras can be someone’s hobby, and selling them can be a necessity for others, but relegating the dreams of aspirational youth to selling pakoras, is both heartless and stupid.

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Congress’ Commitment to Welfare Economy

Unlike the BJP manifesto which many have criticised for being ‘status quoist’, the Congress manifesto, which talks of a farmers’ budget and NYAY, shows that the grand old party, in its new avatar, is well aware of the basic problems plaguing the country.

Congress’s commitment to the welfare economy is even deeper in context of global events. Those who see the promise of a twelve thousand rupee universal monthly income as impossible or worrisome, those who see in NYAY the return of old socialist ideas, they must first read history.

After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, in 1992, a book titled 'End of History and the Last Man' written by Francis Fukuyama, became very popular. The central thesis of the book is that liberal capitalism, and democracy based on it, are the final destination of history – socialism and other related ideas are pointless.

But with all that has happened in the last nearly three decades, the horror that unchecked capital and blind development has wreaked, Fukuyama has been forced to say that “the return of socialism” is necessary, not in the sense of dictatorship, but so as to see the eradication of poverty, and for employment, education and health for all to be the responsibility of the state.

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Moving Away From ‘Jumlas’ And ‘Pakora Economics’

The point is not a socialist government, rather a welfare state. It is worth noting that the “gareebi par var, 72 hazaar” (war on poverty, 72 thousand (annual income for all) idea has the support of experts like Tomas Picketti, Amartya Sen and Raghuram Rajan. The situation here is not like the high-handed demonetisation edict, where the prime minister blew off all experts, and neither is it like the ‘Rs 15,000 in each bank account’ promise, which later, Amit Shah himself dismissed as just an ‘idiom’ (read: jumla).

Those who see themselves as nationalists need to have enough sense to understand that policies like ‘MNREGA’ and ‘justice’ aren’t just about social sensitivity, but also give evidence of logical economics.

If the poor get money, they won’t bury it in the ground; they will spend it, which will also add to market vibrancy. The idea of a farmers’ budget should have come a long time ago, so that their issues can be properly addressed.

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The Congress’ manifesto initiated a change in the narrative, and it was a golden opportunity for the BJP to present its own alternative ideas on basic issues like employment, education and health in its manifesto. Alas, BJP did not take up that opportunity.

The BJP has lost its chance to sensibly deal with the key issues in its manifesto, as revealed in its ‘Sankalp Patra’. But then again, how can we expect those who have derailed, to get back on track so smoothly?

(This piece was originally published on Quint Hindi and has been translated by Mariam Shaheen.)

(The writer is Contributing Editor for Hindi Quint. He can be reached @puru_ag. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  BJP Manifesto   NYAY   Congress Manifesto 

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