Well, prior to the elections, the election manifestos released by a particular political party are meant to communicate the propaganda and intentions of the party to the voters. Generally, election manifestos are full of rhetorical arguments, plans for the future, previous achievements, etc. Basically, they are an attempt to convince the commoners why that particular party is better than the rest.
However, the manifesto is meant to serve as a more significant instrumental tool in communicating the direction in which that political party intents to drive the future of the country, if it comes to power. Slight contradiction was pointed out in the manifesto released by the Bharatiya Janata Party, where they awarded themselves for their own achievements done in the past. Rather than answering the criticism related to its past performance, the party had set out a narrative that gave the entire debate a new direction—subjects which ‘they’ wanted to address. The very fact that the party was ignorant about releasing its manifesto until the first phase of polling had already begun, and did not care to even correct the typing mistakes in the document shows their blind attitude towards the process and desperation to have victory. The manifesto also points out the narcissistic aura of the leader and the party as the first page of the document features a picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Moreover, the 48-page document witnesses the name Narendra Modi 23 times, while the word BJP finds mention only 20 times.
BJP’s take on Hindutva
The opposition leaders of Congress have pointed out that BJP has simply “copy pasted” its previous manifesto of 2014 with slight changes in the deadlines. With this statement, they meant to say that the Central Government has essentially not made any significant achievements to state. Whether the manifesto is a copy of the previous one is questionable, but the fact that their intentions of molding India into a particular cultural monolith have remained constant stands important. The party firmly believes that this aspect is a necessity for the progress they had promised. The manifesto lays massive importance on the party’s promise to deliver the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya and to offer citizenship to Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Hindus from the neighboring countries who had to flee from their countries due to fear of the prosecutions. The BJP government has clarified its moves to foster the agenda of ‘hindutva’ which it had been doing for the past five years.
The manifesto talks at length about the stellar achievements of the Modi government on a myriad of issues like space technology, national security front, advancements in higher technology. It simultaneously portrays the failures of the other parties to do the same, even when they had been in power. Surprisingly, something appears strikingly different in the BJP’s manifesto that is bragging. The manifesto strategically avoids discussion about the keystone decisions taken by Narendra Modi – demonetization. When one looks back at the financial landscape of the country on 8th of November, 2016, one finds the nation in fragments. Economists from all over the world have described it as an economic fiasco, but the boastful central government advertised it in such a manner that till date, a majority of the populace believes that it helped to eradicate the black money market in India.
The manner in which the manifesto tends to escape from answering important questions pertaining to the areas, in which the government failed, shows that it is problematic. Amongst all the irrelevant brag, the questions of mutilated religious harmony in India did not find a place. The religious disharmony becomes a key player because it is a major stakeholder in the BJP’s identity politics to garner votes from the majority upper class Hindu population.
The use of ‘surgical strike’, ‘zero tolerance toward terrorism’ in the manifesto further feeds into the idea of BJP’s progress in the sphere of national security. On a sharp contrast to the ‘splendid achievements’ in various fields, the manifesto yet again fails to provide a non-narcissistic approach towards the voters. The recurrent incidents of farmer suicides, epidemic and droughts do not find a place in the glitz and glamour of achhe din. When the ruling party ushers itself into overconfidence regarding the achievement of achhe din, they actually fail to look at the failures and the multitude of areas which still need to be worked on.
Picture Courtesy- APN Live
This article is a part of the ‘Of Tugs and Tussles: General Election 2019’ feature series where we focus on quality content written and chosen to focus on specific areas surrounding elections. Find a link to other articles of this feature series here: