The BJP released its national poll manifesto on Monday after weeks of delay. While it does not talk of any path-breaking ideas or solutions, the manifesto does seem to provide an idea of what Narendra Modi may plan to do if he were to become the prime minister. We took a look at the key points mentioned in the manifesto and here’s what we found.
1. Hindutva and Ram Mandir: While Narendra Modi may talk of development, the BJP and Modi haven’t forgotten the Ram Mandir issue and it finds prominence in their manifesto. The manifesto clearly states that the BJP would still try to find a way to build the Ram Mandir. It also talks about the Ganga river and the cow, among other things. Clearly the BJP isn’t moving away from Hindutva.
2. No FDI in Retail: The BJP continues to remain staunchly against foreign direct investments (FDI) in the retail sector. While there is no talk of what would happen to states that have opened up to retail, clearly the BJP is playing cautious here.
3. Reform of the Tax/Financial system: The BJP has promised to reduce the non-performing assets (NPAs) of national banks, they also promise to reform the tax system in the country and simplify it in order to not just end the woes of the common man, but also attract investors who have been confused and scared away by the tax system. They also promise to finally introduce Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the country.
4. More importance to federal structure: The BJP promises to give the federal structure of the country a boost by giving an equal say to the chief ministers of the various states when it comes to making decisions. They will provide fiscal autonomy to states, and also involve the local state governments when it comes to the promotion of foreign trade and commerce.
5. Reforms: The BJP plans to double the number of courts and judges, reduce the number of cases where the government is the litigant, bring in administrative reforms and eliminate obsolete laws and regulations.
6. Neo-middle class: The BJP promises educational scholarships, an efficient public transport system and medical insurance to those that are touted as Modi’s favourite class of people.
7. Massive re-look at agriculture: The BJP promises to ensure a minimum of 50% profit to the farmer, reform the APMC act, introduce Kisan TV channels, introduce insurance for farmers and not allow genetically modified foods until a complete scientific evaluation is complete.
8. Railways: New rail networks connecting ports to the hinterland, a tourist railway network connecting important tourist locations and a Diamond Quadrilateral project that would introduce super-speed railway connectivity to India’s mega cities are all on the BJP's manifesto.
9. Internet Connectivity: The BJP plans to introduce WiFi connectivity in all public places and mentions a “National Optical-Fibre Network”, something the UPA has already started work on under the SPV of Bharat Broadband Network Limited, and promises to have completed by the end of 2014. Is the BJP sure of what its talking about?
10. Northeast and J&K Policy: The BJP is one of the only parties that talks of integrating India's Northeast with the rest of the country through the railways and highways. In the manifesto, it promises all-weather roads and a new economic model for them, but doesn’t spell out how this model would work.
The BJP’s manifesto also talks about interlinking of national rivers, piped water to all house holds, guidelines for green buildings and building a national defence memorial among other things, but it seems much of this will depend on whether its feasible.