Analysis: Why Did BJP Not Deliver Even on Core Promises of Its 2014 Manifesto?
This is the reason Modi has to constantly bring up Pakistan, rabid nationalism & border issues to divert attention from domestic challenges.
The BJP manifesto was a clearly articulated document released with much fanfare in 2014. There was a clear and unapologetic Hindutva plan and a pathway for economic reform. The constituency the party was addressing was the male, Hindu, urban, middle class voter. Each promise made was loud, unambiguous and sharp. Today as the party seeks re-election, let’s go back and look at what has happened with the promises written in the manifesto.
The first promise made was that the party will facilitate the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya. It will strive to seek all constitutional avenues to get the temple built. This was a very strong commitment made to its voters. Five years later, it’s a mystery why the BJP did not do anything to look for a solution. Only at the very end of its tenure, we had the court being approached to solve the problem and as expected, the matter is now indefinitely in abeyance, with a toothless negotiating team of three asked to mediate and come up with a solution.
The second major promise also suffers the same fate. The manifesto promised that the party would go by its longstanding stance on Article 370 and discuss with all stakeholders the abrogation of the Article. However, despite being in power at the centre and in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the BJP did not make any effort to discuss 370. Similarly, the promise to bring all Kashmiri pundits back remained on paper. Absolutely no effort were made to even develop a game plan of bringing them back into the valley.
The manifesto then went on to make various other promises. It resolved to clean up all rivers. Today, even the Ganga remains polluted and seems to have become worse. The party promised the setting up of tourist circuits and building tourism corridors. None of this has even been drawn up or started being built. Our tourist spots remain as neglected as ever, dirty and unsafe, with very few amenities. No wonder tourism has stagnated. In fact, because of the violence unleashed, tourist arrivals have actually been poor. The Government’s attitude towards tourism was best reflected in Yogi dropping the Taj Mahal from a list of U.P. attractions.
In all this, what is baffling is PM Modi’s inability or disinterest in not pushing his party men to do what was relatively easy and could have been initiated right away. On all the issues mentioned above, there is not even a hint of movement or a sense of purpose. The other promises made were more difficult and therefore failure on those could have been explained away. For example, the manifesto wanted more smaller states but the party and the cabinet did absolutely nothing to find out what states to divide up further. Smaller states, usually do better than their large unwieldy counterparts. However, again we see that not only has no action been taken in this regard, the issue itself was never raised.
The manifesto then spoke about jobs, skilling, black money and corruption. On these issues, there have been misadventures like demonetisation, delay in appointing a Lokpal, and the job market that simply froze and then shrunk during the last three years. Unemployment is at a record high, and what is worse is that joblessness is at its highest among the educated youth. None of the major names that were accused of being corrupt were prosecuted. In fact a number of them even joined the BJP. It is actually these core promises that the voter is getting agitated over.
It is in the rural and the agricultural sectors where the BJP has disappointed the most. The 2014 manifesto had promised a national agricultural market. The party sought to improve rural infrastructure manifold and increase farm incomes by at least a hundred percent. It is perplexing to note that Narendra Modi did not even try to deliver anything to rural India. The agriculture ministry was given to an unknown and uninspiring Radha Mohan Singh. The rural development ministry was headed by another unknown Narendra Tomar. Together, these two major cabinet ministers did nothing to address rising rural pains and agrarian distress.
On foreign policy, the manifesto promised to keep India first. Firstly, minister Sushma Swaraj wasn’t seen anywhere near a policy decision. Secondly, the Prime Minister couldn’t say a word to US President Trump when he reduced H1-B visas drastically and raised tariffs on Indian imports. Thirdly, China rides rough shod over anything that we propose at the Security Council. Foreign investment has come in, but more as equity and nowhere in sectors that would improve the employment scene. Make in India sank without a trace, not being able to improve manufacturing’s contribution to the GDP.
Finally the manifesto had promised public private partnerships in various sectors. None of these would see the light of day. The PPP that occupied news headlines was the one that involved Anil Ambani and the infamous Rafale case. The other, a most ambitious Ayushman Bharat or Modicare as the loyalists call it, is yet nascent and is facing huge teething problems. The public sector is still struggling. Oil companies had to give up their profits as crude prices went up. Air India continues to flounder. The curious case of Jet Airways and the government rescue offer is baffling. Then is the sad story of PSUs that were then nudged to pay and buy sick industries to achieve disinvestment targets.
The question therefore, is simple. Why did PM Modi not take action on any of these promises? He could have easily delivered on the simpler ones. Prosecuting the corrupt, arresting those who eventually fled the country, starting earnest efforts to solve the Babri masjid issue and building the temple, sprucing up some top tourist destinations and building a national agricultural market would have allowed him to show off against his promises. Now, he has to constantly bring up Pakistan, rabid nationalism and border issues to deflect attention from real domestic challenges. It’s not going to be easy.