April 19, 2024


Will the BJP manifesto make a difference?

(Image credit: BJP’s X post)

The BJP is seeking a historical popular mandate for a third consecutive term under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The party’s campaign rhetoric is primarily based on its track record over the past decade. It has underscored its achievements concerning advancing its core ideological agenda and governance promises.

In the war of the manifestos, it was now time for the incumbent to release theirs. Broadly, the manifesto argues for the continuation of a strong and stable government to steer India through global economic and geopolitical uncertainties. The specifics include implementing the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and women’s reservations. Is the manifesto good, and will it make a difference?


If we cast our minds back to 2014, the BJP released its manifesto when the opposition Congress was on the back foot. Many pundits had already predicted a cakewalk for the BJP. At the time, the party’s 52-page manifesto outlined 549 promises and was titled “Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat” (One India, Great India). The manifesto also highlighted several BJP leaders.

The focus was addressing issues that went wrong under the UPA-II government, like price rise, employment, and corruption. There was a mention of an e-governance system and a task force to track and bring down black money in the economy and political system.

There was also a considerable focus on promises to women, terming them “nation builders”. It listed several steps to make women more secure and provide economic and employment opportunities.

Its 2014 victory was mainly driven by a consolidation of ideological factors. Issues related to employment, agriculture, and public service delivery were front of mind for most people. The party also managed to form a unique coalition – its traditional upper-caste supporters and many from marginalised communities like Dalits, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

Fast forward to 2019, and things were a little different. The manifesto was 45 pages long with 75 poll promises. The BJP had a leg up, being the incumbent in 2019. The results were spotty on the specifics of what it achieved from the 2014 manifesto. There was a big push toward digitisation, the Digital India initiative, and a desire to make India a startup hub.

Another important difference in the 2019 manifesto compared to the 2014 one was the focus on one man and one leader – Narendra Modi. He was the undeniable leader of not just the country but the party. During his first term, Modi’s approval ratings remained high at home and abroad.

For its 2024 manifesto, the message is clear – the BJP and Modi, in particular, have taken India to new heights economically thanks to a slew of policies. The country is in much better shape now than it was even 5 years ago, and there’s still work to be done. One Nation, One Election, the CAA, and a Uniform Civil Code are unfinished business. Does the manifesto hit or miss the mark?

VIEW: Just what the party needs

The name of the game for the 2024 manifesto and campaign is continuity, with more to come. In many ways, the BJP has an advantage going into the upcoming elections since it can spend a good portion of its time and effort highlighting what it has done over the past decade. It’s able to highlight achievements like the ongoing free grain scheme, piped drinking water, lifting 25 crore people out of poverty, and, most recently, inaugurating the Ram Temple.

The audience it’s trying to reach covers a wide swath – rural voters, farmers, the youth, women, and the new middle class. The party deftly used the NaMo app to seek feedback from people and received 4 lakh suggestions. These were examined and incorporated in the final document. They did something similar for the 2019 manifesto to signal that the document was formed through a bottom-up approach.

The BJP has smartly centred Modi in the manifesto. He’s the obvious figurehead and popular leader at home and abroad. The theme is “Modi ki Guarantee”. The guarantees, according to the party, aren’t pipe dreams but realistic achievable ones thanks to its good governance track record. While there are broad pronouncements like making India the third-largest economy, it’s backed up with policies like expanded affordable housing and healthcare.

COUNTERVIEW: Falls short on several accounts

There’s more to politics than just personalities. While the BJP’s manifesto might centre on Modi, it lacks specifics and a vision. The Congress’ manifesto committee was formed in December and took their time to carefully prepare the document. On the other hand, the BJP set up a committee on March 30 and released its manifesto in less than two weeks. That fairly quick turnaround showed the party is resting a little too much on its laurels.

One of the important issues that’s top of mind for people is employment, especially in a post-pandemic world. Even with 10 years in power, the promise of filling vacancies hasn’t been achieved. The opposition, including the Congress, took the BJP to task for its lack of accountability and recycling hollow rhetoric. Talk of lifting 25 crore people out of poverty has been repeatedly disputed. The reality is that a large chunk of the country struggles to earn to have two meals a day.

What’s interesting about the BJP’s manifesto is what it doesn’t include. For example, in the days after its release, the Gorkha community in northern Bengal were upset that there wasn’t any mention of the Gorkhaland issue. It also steered clear of the caste census issue, which the Congress hasn’t. According to some Citi economists, the manifesto was disappointing. They saw it as more of the same but with little information about land and labour reforms. There’s not much new in it.

Reference Links:

  • What promises did the BJP make in its 2014 manifesto – Business Today
  • Lok Sabha elections: BJP manifesto promises ‘one nation, one election’, uniform civil code – Scroll
  • How BJP Turns Promises into Progress: The Making of a Manifesto – News18
  • Analysing BJP Manifesto, ‘One Nation, One Election’ and More – News18
  • Sankalp Patra 2024: Unlike Opposition, BJP promises empowerment over entitlement – The Indian Express
  • BJP manifesto keeps focus on dividing and out-of-sight goals – Deccan Herald
  • What the BJP’s Manifesto Doesn’t Say – And the Congress’s Does – The Wire
  • BJP manifesto leaves Citi disappointed, says Sankalp Patra lacks ‘big-bang structural reforms’ – The Economic Times

What is your opinion on this?
(Only subscribers can participate in polls)

a) The BJP’s manifesto will make a difference.

b) The BJP’s manifesto won’t make a difference.


For the Right:

Why one size does not fit all of northeast

For the Left:

“How Much Has Any Other Politician Done?” — In The Hills Of Pauri Garhwal, Women Voters Stand Solidly In Modi’s Support