Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came out with a manifesto which talks about launching a massive low-cost housing programme, bullet trains, creating 100 smart cities while retaining its opposition to foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail as also controversial agenda of exploring possibilities to build a temple at Ayodhya.
The manifesto of the key opposition political party, which is tipped to emerge as the largest in the general elections which starts on Monday, is much more detailed in sharp contrast to those prepared by the ruling Congress party, which talks about vision besides the usual social agenda.
It is also backed with more concrete action plan compare with that of the Aam Aadmi Party, which harps on simplification of processes and essentially focuses on rooting corruption.
However, on the flip side, one can interpret it as going overboard and BJP overpromising, in terms of targets to achieve.
Here are some highlights
Barring the multi-brand retail sector, FDI will be allowed in sectors wherever needed for job and asset creation, infrastructure and acquisition of niche technology and specialised expertise. This puts a question mark on the sector which has already been conditionally opened to FDI. In the first deal in the sector, Tesco has also inked a deal to pick a stake in Tata’s hypermarket chain. At the same time, while saying FDI will be opened in virtually all other sectors, it has left its intended policy vague for sectors like insurance for which it had previously opposed higher foreign investment.
While referring to Congress-led United Progressive Alliance’s (UPA) face-off with various MNCs as ‘tax terrorism’ BJP said it will provide a non-adversarial and conducive tax environment, rationalise and simplify the tax regime and overhaul the dispute resolution mechanisms. It also said it will provide tax incentives for investments in R&D, geared towards indigenisation of technology and innovation.
It plans to roll out a massive low-cost housing programme to ensure in the 75thyear of independence (2022), every family will have a pucca or solid house of its own. It added that this will be an innovatively designed scheme that dovetails various existing programmes and also encourages the housing sector by appropriate policy interventions and credit availability, including interest subventions, where necessary.
BJP manifesto also talks about identifying 100 most backward districts of the country to bring them on par with other districts through prioritised and integrated development. It will also initiate building 100 new cities; enabled with the latest in technology and infrastructure, adhering to concepts like sustainability, walk to work, etc, and focused on specialised domains.
It plans to take forward the golden quadrilateral project, which created expressways connecting four corners of the country, in its previous stint at the government (1999-2004) by launching a diamond quadrilateral project. This project would incorporate high-speed train network with bullet train.
The party also plans to establish an agri rail network with train wagons designed to cater to the specific needs of perishable agricultural products like milk and vegetables as well as light weight wagons for salt movement.
It also sets stage for modernising all existing and operational airports, and build new ones especially connecting smaller towns and all tourism circuits. In addition, it has said that there is a potential for inland air transportation to various remote and local locations in the country. Such air strips will be developed so that low-cost air travelling becomes possible within the country.
The party also plans to evolve an economic model of port-led development to capitalise on the long coastline. It plans to modernise existing ports on one hand, and develop new ones on the other – stringing together its Sagar Mala project.
BJP also talks about setting up gas grids to make gas available to households and the industry.
To tackle inflation, it plans to set up a Price Stabilisation Fund and unbundle Food Corporation of India (FCI) operations into procurement, storage and distribution for greater efficiency. It also intends to leverage on technology to disseminate real time data—especially to farmers—on production, prices, imports, stocks and overall availability. In addition, it talks about evolving a single 'National Agriculture Market'.
It plans to convert existing Employment Exchanges into Career Centres - connecting youth with job opportunities in a transparent and effective manner through the use of technology; as well as providing counselling and training.
BJP also plans to set up 'district level incubation and accelerator programme' for encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship.
While the present government announced and launched an all-women bank in record time, BJP talks about creating an all-women mobile bank to cater to women.
It plans to set up a strong regulatory framework for the non-banking financial companies to protect the investors.
It also talks about establishing a national e-library to empower school teachers and students and plans to set up Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) and virtual classrooms to make it convenient for working class people and housewives to enhance their knowledge and qualifications.
The manifesto plans to set up a National Optical-Fibre Network up to the village level; Wi-Fi zones in public areas and an institute of Big Data and Analytics for studying the impact of big data across sectors for predictive science.
It also plans to form 'Organic Farming and Fertiliser Corporation of India', to promote organic farming and fertilisers, and provide incentives and support for marketing organic produce. In addition it plans regional Kisan TV channels.
In the healthcare field, BJP talks about setting up an AIIMS like institute in every state.
BJP plans to create 50 tourist circuits that are affordable and built around themes like: archaeological and heritage; cultural and spiritual; Himalayan; desert; coastal and medical (ayurveda and modern medicine), etc.
Under the banner of cultural agenda, BJP reiterated its stand to explore all possibilities within the framework of the constitution to facilitate the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya and said in view of the contribution of cow and its progeny to agriculture, socio-economic and cultural life of the country, the Department of Animal Husbandry will be strengthened and empowered for the protection and promotion of cow and its progeny.
It also talks about drafting for adoption a Uniform Civil Code to protect the rights of all women.
Click here for full manifesto.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)