With the results of 2019 elections declared and PM Modi’s BJP coming out on top, this election was truly entertaining to follow. DoJMA analysed this year’s elections and the lead-up to it, in terms of the manifesto, that often-forgotten promise parties make for their time at the helm. 

This three-part article compares the manifestos of the two major parties (BJP and Congress) in 2014, follows the way the government lived up to expectations (or didn’t) in the next five years, and looks at their manifesto promises in 2019.

So, what did the parties promise in 2014?

Education

BJP: Promised to allocate six percent of GDP to education

Congress: Promised to make RTE effective, reduce dropout rate

Employment

BJP: Promised to boost labour intensive sectors, make job exchange career centres

Congress: Promised to create ten crore jobs

Governance

BJP: Promised to bring back black money and restore fifteen lakhs in each individual’s account; to digitize governance and simplify laws to combat corruption

Congress: Promised to pass Right to Citizens for Time-Bound Delivery Bill, Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Officials Act and Public Procurement Bill.

Economy and Banking

BJP: Promised to appoint special courts to stop hoarding and create price stabilisation fund; to not allow FDI in multi-brand retail, and to make FPMB’s more efficient and investor friendly; to take steps to rationalize interests rate

Congress: Promised to put no obstacle for foreign investment; to legislate new laws for financial sector and create a roadmap for tackling bad loans

Social Sector

BJP: Promised to implement food security, to create laws on rights of specially abled people and to implement stringent rape laws

Congress: Promised to implement reforms regarding fisheries, to set up fast track courts for crimes against women.

Legal Reform

BJP: Promised to start National Judicial Commission, Modernize courts, Speed up appointments

Congress: Promised to come up with appointments and accountability bills, to better deal with backlog and to set up fast track courts

From ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ to ‘Acche Din Aane Wale Hai’, the BJP government wasn’t short on pledging a slew of promises in the 2014 elections.

But were these just empty words, or was there some truth to their slogans? Let’s have a look at some of the accomplishments, and lack thereof, of the BJP led government over the past 5 years.

Agriculture:

Perhaps the only sector where the government brought about practical change and improvement.

Fulfilled: The government introduced a much needed insurance for farmers to act as a safeguard against natural disasters, along with reforming the Agriculture Produce and Marketing Committees (APMCs) for the better.

Unfulfilled: There have not been proper welfare measures implemented for older and more marginalised farmers, which was a central focus of the Agricultural aspect of the 2014 agenda.

Industry:

Fulfilled: Business and industry in India have prospered under the Modi government, with India going up 65 places under the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report.

Unfulfilled: The progress has been fractured at best and nowhere near the promised results. Make in India was only partially a success and the initiative to build 200 million homes to provide housing for all has seen less than 1% of that target being reached. The party also failed on its promise to help small businesses grow.

Economy:

Fulfilled: The Modi government has overseen stable economic growth over its tenure. The fiscal deficit fell from 4.5% to 3.4% over the tenure and undertook banking reforms under the Jan Dhan Yojana.

Unfulfilled: However, the government fell short on its promise of dealing with the black money. Short of setting up a task force to look into it, Modi threw the country into short-term chaos with demonetisation which only reeled in part of the estimated black money out there at great economic cost to the country.

Education:

Fulfilled: The government brought about some much needed education reforms.

The Apprenticeship Act provides hands-on job experience for students who do not pursue higher education. This has helped them to ease their entry into the job market. The government’s SWAYAM initiative has also setup MOOCs for students of age 14 to post graduates, though the effectiveness, usefulness and quality of instruction of this program remains to be seen.

Unfulfilled: It has not been all roses with the education system in our country. The government has yet to act on its promise of providing more autonomy to institutes of higher education fusing the scattered bodies responsible for overseeing University grants into one Higher Education Commission. The issue of providing midday meals to a larger number of school students has also been neglected. In fact, the number of students benefiting from it has actually gone down.

Governance:

Fulfilled: The government successfully managed to deal with a part of the huge backlog of cases piled up in local courts by providing dispute resolution services before cases go to courts. It has also reviewed, refined or scrapped outdated laws as per its agenda.

Unfulfilled: J&K remain a point of contempt between India and Pakistan and the promise to abolish it’s special status as autonomous remains unfulfilled as tensions rise. Domestically, the issue of the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya remains a divisive issue which is unresolved despite the Party’s promises to look into it.

It has also failed to meet its goal of limiting election expenditure. Digitisation of government work to reduce corruption is yet another promise that remains a pipe dream. In addition to all this, it has made zero progress in coming down on criminals in politics and resolving cases against politicians, though we can cut them some slack there as crime and politics have always been known to go hand in hand under any government.

Healthcare Reforms:

Fulfilled: The government passed the National Health Policy in 2017 to achieve universal coverage at affordable costs. However, it is hard to quantify the impact of this at the present time.

Unfulfilled: The promise to setup more medical colleges all over the country along with having AIIMS-like institutes in every state to provide quality medical education goes unfulfilled. It has also failed on its manifesto promises to increase the number of healthcare workers. The plans to launch a National Mosquito Control program to reduce to prevalence of malaria has also seen no headway. There has been little progress in increasing the outreach of healthcare by using the internet.

Having looked into the 2014 comparison of manifestos as well as how the government acted on them post 2014, let’s look at a comparison of the election manifestos of the BJP and Congress for 2019. With the BJP manifesto, “Sankalp Patra”, and that of Congress dubbed, “Congress will deliver”, these manifestos dwell in varied topics ranging from agriculture to women empowerment, from employment to entrepreneurship, from healthcare to hate-crimes. We, here at DoJMA try our best to put forth the most unbiased comprehension of the same.

National Security:

BJP: BJP has emphasized on “zero tolerance to terrorism” by extremism if so be it. BJP has promised the modernization of the armed forces, Central and State police forces, promotion of the “Make In India” campaign for defence equipment and strengthening the maritime and border security. The resettlement options of armed force veterans was also mentioned in the BJP manifesto.

Congress: Congress doctrine focuses more on defence procurement. It has promised to re-establish the National Security Advisory Board, give statutory basis to the office of National Security Advisor and the National Security Council. An office of the Chief of Defence Staff will be established to advise the government on matters relating to defence. It has also vowed to increase the spending on defence and modernization. The manifesto mentioned expanding defence from territorial security to cyber, data, communication, trade routes, and financial security.

Agriculture:

The common points to both the manifestos include the expansion of warehouses, cold storage and food processing facilities and a major stress on organic farming.

BJP: The BJP envisioned to double the income of the farmers by 2022. The highlight of the BJP manifesto is the promotion of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana to ensure financial support to marginal or poor farmers who own land up to 2 hectares and the launch of a full-fledged pension scheme for all small and marginal farmers in the country in a bid to ensure social security. The manifesto also promised short-term new agriculture loans up to Rs 1 lakh at zero percent interest rate for 1-5 years on conditions of prompt repayment of the principal amount.

Congress: “Karz Mukti” or freedom from indebtedness, introduction of a separate “Kisan budget” and restructuring the BJP government’s “failed” Fasal Bima Yojana or Crop Insurance Scheme seem to be the focal point of the Congress manifesto. Congress has stepped up to promise waiver of outstanding farm loans in other states similar to how it acted after coming to power in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh after the latest round of assembly elections.

Employment and Entrepreneurship:

BJP: BJP promised employment by providing more support to the 22 major `Champion Sectors` identified as the main drivers of the Indian economy. BJP aimed to promote startup culture in the country through the creation of a `Seed Startup Fund` of Rs 20,000 crore. BJP looked to uphold its “Make in India” initiative as well as launch a new scheme to provide collateral-free credit up to Rs 50 lakh for entrepreneurs; will guarantee 50% of the loan amount for female entrepreneurs and 25% for male entrepreneurs and increase beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana from the current 17 crore entrepreneurs up to 30 crore.

Congress: The Congress promised the creation of new employment opportunities through  `Water Bodies Restoration Mission` and `Wasteland Regeneration Mission`, creating around 1 crore jobs. Congress has also left no stone unturned. The party said in its manifesto that it would create an Enterprise Support Agency to help entrepreneurs, including start-ups with all-round support including counseling, incubation, and access to technology, funding, and many other purposes and abolish any kind of Angel Tax imposed on start-ups. Congress aims to fill 4 lakh Central govt and 20 lakh State govt vacancies.

Women Welfare:

At a time when women still continue to be a minority in India’s workforce and need raised voices to get what they deserve, both the parties have stepped in on this issue.

BJP: The BJP’s manifesto promised financial empowerment of women, drawing a Uniform Civil code, reduction of malnourishment in women and girls by 10 per cent in the next five years, creation of a separate Women’s Security Division under the Home Ministry, formulation of “Women on Workforce” and abolition of the “Triple Talaq” and “Nikah Halala”. BJP had promised to provide sanitary napkins for Rs. 1 per pad as well as other menstrual products at cheaper prices.

Congress: Even though both the parties had supported 33 percent reservation for women in Parliament and Assemblies, Congress has also promised to amend the Service Rules to ensure one-third of Central government appointments are for women. Congress had promised that every Special Economic Zone will have working women’s hostels and safe transport facilities. It has promised to abolish laws that prohibit night shifts for women. It has also promised to strictly enforce the Equal Remuneration Act. It had also promised a separate investigative agency to look into heinous crimes against women.  Congress said it will install sanitary napkin vending machines in public places.

Taxation and Economic Roadmap:

BJP: In regards to Taxation, BJP, which introduced GST, aimed to continue the simplification of the same by engaging in talks with the stake-holders and set up a committee for Easing Citizens` Interactions with Government (CECIG). An ambitious claim of making India the third largest economy by 2030 was a highlight point of BJP’s manifesto. It also planned to make capital investment of Rs.100 lakh crore in the infrastructure sector. Improving India’s rank in ‘Ease of Doing Business’ ranking, a single-window compliance and dispute resolution mechanism for MSMEs, and making technical and procedural defaults under Companies Act as civil liabilities, were some of the key reforms proposed.

Congress: Congress had proposed a GST 2.0 regime based on a single, moderate, standard rate of tax on all goods and services, which will include tobacco, liquor, and petroleum products and implement a Direct Taxes Code. Congress had promised an open, liberal market economy, autonomy of the RBI, scrapping of the Angel Tax for start-ups, rehabilitation plan for MSMEs, an increase in the share of manufacturing to 25 percent, and a review of foreign trade policy and all laws, rules and regulations governing investments within three months.

Governance:

BJP: BJP had assured to bring reforms in civil services on the lines of “Minimum Government and Maximum Governance”. It also aimed to provide end-to-end digitisation of government processes and digital delivery of government services. Setting up an International Financial Services Centre Authority was also on BJP’s wishlist. On electoral reforms, the BJP wanted to hold simultaneous elections for Parliament, Assemblies and local bodies. On the issue of J&K, BJP reiterated its stand the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A.  BJP promised in its manifesto to expedite the process of completing the National Register of Citizens(NRC) process to weed out illegal immigrants. Another issue on the BJP manifesto was the entry of women to the Sabarimala temple in Kerala and the expedition of the construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya as a part of preservation of “Bharatiya Culture”.

Congress: Congress had promised to pass an Anti-Discrimination Law, Councils for agriculture, healthcare and education, full statehood to Puducherry, Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh, and define the role of Lieutenant Governors. Congress was poised to scrap Electoral Bond Scheme and replace it with a National Election Fund. Congress clearly mentioned that “nothing will be done or allowed to change the Constitutional position” with regards to Article 370. Congress said that northeast has always been a sensitive place, thus requiring special provisions in the Constitution. Congress had focused attention on creating specific laws against hate crimes and mob lynching as well as protecting the status of minority educational institutions as well as promising reservations for SC, ST and OBC communities in job promotions. It had also sought inclusion of the LGBTQIA+ community, senior citizens and persons with disabilities in its manifesto.

 

The difference in the layout of the manifestos reflects the difference in the ideologies of the two parties. Now that BJP has come out to be the ultimate winner of the 2019 elections and has the reigns of governance for the next five years, it’s time for us to hope that the country has chosen right.