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Pro-poor, anti-graft push in BJP’s sop-free manifesto

Simultaneous polls, UCC, CAA promised | NRC, MSP skipped

Pro-poor, anti-graft push in BJP’s sop-free manifesto

PM Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders launch the party’s manifesto in New Delhi. MANAS RANJAN BHUI

Tribune News Service

Aditi Tandon

New Delhi, April 14

The ruling BJP on Sunday unveiled its 2024 Lok Sabha election manifesto, promising expansion of the existing network of pro-poor schemes over the next five years, building of support systems for the middle classes, continuation of action against corruption and implementation of “one nation, one election”, Uniform Civil Code and Citizenship Amendment Act.

Introducing BJP Sankalp Patra — “Modi ki Guarantee 2024” — coinciding with the ringing in of New Year in many parts of India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it would strengthen the poor, youth, farmers and women, “four pillars of Viksit Bharat” and ensure “dignity, quality of life for all besides aiding a transition from investments to jobs (nivesh se naukri)”.

New pledges

  • Free hospitalisation for 70-plus
  • House ownership for families belonging to the middle class
  • New trains, end of waiting list
  • PNG in all major towns
  • ‘One nation, one student’ ID
  • Global Ramayana fest
  • Thiruvalluvar centres worldwide

Doubles down on

  • Free ration to 80 cr people
  • PM Kisan Samman Nidhi
  • Ayushman Bharat
  • Jan Aushadhi Kendras
  • Rural housing (3 cr more)
  • More LPG connections
  • Zero power bills under PM Surya Ghar plan

The PM said: “In these times ridden with conflict and uncertainties, the need for a strong, full majority, stable government in India becomes even more pronounced.”

Speaking on the eve of April 19 Phase I Lok Sabha election in which the BJP is eyeing a third straight win, the PM vowed to build India as Vishwa Bandhu (world’s friend) and the third largest global economy. “India will move forward with the promise to realise ‘one nation, one election’ plan and will become a global leader in manufacturing, nutrition, pharmacy, electronics, semiconductor and EVs…. The BJP considers UCC important in national interest. In 10 years, the BJP acted firmly against corruption, which robs the poor and middle classes of their rights. Action against the corrupt will continue,” Modi asserted.

He said work on guarantees would start soon after the “poll results are out on June 4” and that he would “toil 24x7 for Viksit Bharat by 2047”.

Major new cross-sector promises in a largely sop-free manifesto are free hospitalisation of up to Rs 5 lakh annually for 70 plus people; home ownership for middle class families; construction of 3 crore new rural houses; doubling of Mudra loan to Rs 20 lakh; piped natural gas supply to major towns; new passenger trains to eliminate wait lists; raised loan limit for street vendors, observance of 2025 (the 150th birth anniversary of Bhagwan Birsa Munda) as Janjatiya Gaurav Varsh; Global Ramayana festival and Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar Centres across the world; support for India’s 2026 Olympics bid, and a campaign to address osteoporosis, cervical and breast cancers.

Importantly, while the document celebrates the fulfilment of BJP’s core promises — Ram Mandir in Ayodhya and Abrogation of Article 370 in J&K — it is silent on party’s 2019 poll pledge of NRC and on legal MSP regime for farmers. As a counter to Congress’ caste census, the BJP sufficed to mention that 60% of the current ministers are OBCs and SC/STs in a sign of government’s commitment to their actual empowerment.

Mainly, the manifesto’s focus is on expansion and extension of major pro-poor, pro-labour, pro-trader schemes that helped the BJP create crores of beneficiaries.

The manifesto has announced extension of free ration to 80 crore people until 2029; continuation of PM Kisan Samman Nidhi (11 crore farmers are getting Rs 6,000 annual cash transfer); Ayushman Bharat (12 crore poor families are getting Rs 5 lakh annual free hospitalisation cover each); Jan Aushadhi Kendras for subsidised medicines; rural housing (4 crore already built in 10 years and 3 crore promised in the next five), LPG connections (11 crore women have benefitted from Ujjwala scheme which will be expanded); zero power bills through PM Surya Ghar plan and support to fishermen active along a 5,000 km coastline.

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