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Elections 2024 | BJP’s Sankalp vs Nyay of Congress: The Battle of the Manifestos

While BJP charts a course towards a 'Viksit Bharat', Congress champions a narrative of societal equity and justice.

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The ideological divergence encapsulated in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s 'Sankalp Patra' and Congress' 'Nyay Patra' for the forthcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections mirrors India's vibrant political tapestry. The stage is set, the audience anticipates, and the curtain rises on the most profound ideological spectacle in India's democratic theatre.

These manifestos transcend policy compilations and are a declaration of identity with each party crafting its own rendition of the spirit of India.

The BJP's 'Sankalp Patra' epitomises continuity by weaving a narrative of progress built upon the party's previous tenure and spotlighting nationalism, infrastructural advancements, and a robust economic trajectory. It champions cultural values and advocates for initiatives like the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), epitomising a steadfast commitment to a national ethos.

In stark contrast, Congress' 'Nyay Patra' heralds a clarion call for change, accentuating social justice and economic parity as its focal points. It promises a comprehensive socio-economic census and legal safeguards guaranteeing farmers' incomes, aimed at redressing societal inequities.

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The Divergence in Vision

The BJP's pragmatic stance paints a vision of a self-reliant India, prioritising governance overhauls and bolstering national security.

Its manifesto strikes chords with the constituents valuing tradition and viewing cultural nationalism as intrinsic to India's character. Conversely, the Congress positions itself as an advocate for the youth and disenfranchised, pledging a more equitable distribution of resources and opportunities.

While 'Sankalp' embodies a pledge to traverse a trajectory deemed instrumental in India's development, heralding stability, growth, and a pragmatic approach unswayed by populism, 'Nyay' seeks to offer a progressive alternative to the BJP's vision.

At this juncture, India stands at a crossroads where the dichotomy between 'Sankalp' and 'Nyay' transcends mere manifesto promises; it delineates divergent visions for the nation's future.

While the BJP charts a course towards a Viksit Bharat (Developed India), the Congress champions a narrative of societal equity and justice.

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A Battle of Ideologies

Both manifestos clearly emphasise a clash of ideologies.

The BJP's manifesto champions cultural nationalism and Hinduism under Modi's leadership, presenting a rehashed narrative with a 'Modi ki guarantee' stamp. While it touts having a pragmatic approach, the essence of a diverse, progressive, and secular India finds resonance in Congress's 'Nyay' as a pivotal ideology. Without a vision of justice, the pledge of 'Sankalp' falls short of upholding the inclusive idea of Bharat.

The ideological chasm between these manifestos is deliberate and profound:

The BJP's manifesto envisions a resurgent Bharat – self-assured and assertive – drawing from the triumphs of its storied past. Conversely, the Congress manifesto echoes a clarion call for change, outlining a blueprint for an India where justice isn't just an aspiration but a tangible reality for every citizen across ranks.
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No mention of NRC, Higher MSPs: BJP's Strategic Strokes

The BJP’s 2024 manifesto shifts focus from contentious issues like the National Register of Citizens (NRC), Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), and Article 370 to development goals, including the gradual removal of The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, (AFSPA) in the Northeast and extending the free ration scheme to 2029.

This strategic move aims to widen its appeal across the Eastern and Northeastern states. The manifesto now targets the middle class which was previously overlooked by promoting high-value job creation via startups in smaller cities and proposing large-scale infrastructure projects such as Vande Bharat and bullet trains as well as electric vehicle initiatives.

For the agricultural sector, the narrative changes from income doubling to providing better support through higher Minimum Support Price (MSP), crop diversification incentives, and cohesive farm infrastructure.

The manifesto omits specific economic growth targets, diverging from past projections of India’s economic ascent. Culturally, it promotes international recognition of Ayodhya and Ramayan festivals, celebrates Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar, and seeks to elevate Ayurveda and yoga to global standards.

Similarly, the Congress's 2024 manifesto represents a notable evolution from its 2019 predecessor. The updated manifesto shifts towards 'Paanch Nyay' – five pillars of justice encompassing youth, women, farmers, labourers, and equitable resource distribution.

It pledges to fill nearly 3 million government vacancies and proposes a constitutional amendment to uplift the reservation cap. In contrast, the 2019 manifesto emphasised job creation, relief for farmers' loans, and a separate 'Kisan Budget'.

The latest manifesto also includes a commitment to conduct a nationwide socio-economic and caste census.

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Youth at the Forefront

As the 2024 Lok Sabha elections approach, India's youth take centre stage in the electoral agendas of the major political parties.

The BJP's manifesto focuses on fortifying academic integrity, tackling paper leaks, and promptly filling government vacancies. It envisions India as a global manufacturing and startup hub with initiatives like Mudra promoting entrepreneurship.

In contrast, the Congress manifesto introduces the 'Yuva Nyay' programme to combat unemployment, offering practical training through the Right to Apprenticeship Act for diploma-holders and graduates under 25. It pledges to fill 30 lakh central government vacancies, revitalise the public sector, and provide one-time relief for students affected by the COVID pandemic's disruptions.

As young voters ponder these visions, their choices will not only shape their own future but also the trajectory of the nation.

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Women-Centric Measures

In the arena of electoral politics, the manifestos of the BJP and Congress unfold as banners of promises to India's women who wield significant influence with their 47.1 crore-strong presence.

The BJP's manifesto is a mosaic of empowerment, aiming to transform rural women into 'Lakhpati Didis' and to provide them with robust health services to combat diseases like cervical cancer. It also vows to elevate women to seats of power in Parliament and state legislatures.

Contrasting this, Congress presents the 'Mahalakshmi scheme', offering Rs 1 lakh to impoverished families and pledging half of central government jobs for Indian daughters alongside a promise to double hostels for nurturing women's aspirations at the district level.

The BJP's manifesto champions self-reliance and progress through participation, while the Congress extends a safety net of social security.

The former focuses on systemic change and equality in representation while the latter prioritises immediate upliftment and inclusive support.

In this ideological duel, the BJP envisions progressive change through opportunity, while Congress leans towards immediate assistance and entitlement.

As women voters take centre stage in shaping India's future, their choice between self-made empowerment and assured support will not only impact the political landscape but also shape the evolution of society itself.

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Contrasting Economic and Agricultural Vision

In the unfolding narrative of India's economic trajectory, the BJP and Congress manifestos for 2024 carve out distinct pathways, each presenting divergent strategies for economic development and farmers' welfare.

The BJP's vision positions India as a formidable global economic power, prioritising low inflation, robust growth, and heightened employment opportunities. It pledges support for taxpayers and endeavours to enhance the PM Fasal Bima Yojana through technological upgrades for efficient claims processing and grievance resolution, alongside periodic adjustments to the MSP for crops.

On the other hand, the Congress manifesto charts an ambitious course, aiming to double India's GDP within a decade. It advocates for legislation safeguarding the rights and social security of gig and unorganised workers, promoting free trade while adhering to international commerce norms.

For farmers, Congress proposes a legal MSP guarantee in line with the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations and plans to establish a Permanent Commission on Agricultural Finance for monitoring credit and addressing loan-related challenges.

The BJP's economic blueprint focuses on bolstering India's global market standing with a keen focus on manufacturing and technological advancements.

Finally, both the manifestos cater to their core constituencies while addressing broader economic and agrarian concerns. The BJP's strategy leans towards a top-down approach, banking on large-scale projects and international competitiveness for economic ascendancy.

In contrast, the Congress advocates for a bottom-up approach, prioritising social welfare and grassroots economic reforms. These contrasting visions underscore the ideological divergence between the two parties, each presenting a unique narrative on India's path towards a prosperous future.

(The author, a columnist and research scholar, teaches journalism at St. Xavier's College (autonomous), Kolkata. 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.)

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