Issue Brief on 18th Lok Sabha Election Manifestos 2024: Indian Foreign Policy and Pakistan

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Introduction

Ahead of the 18th Lok Sabha elections (commencing from April 19, 2024), the manifestos of India’s two major political parties are under scrutiny.[1] The titles of election manifestos reveal a great deal about the contents. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s manifesto, titled ‘Modi ki Guarantee’ (Modi’s Guarantee), is attempting to develop a connection with the Indian voters based on assurances by Modi. The Indian National Congress (INC)’s manifesto, titled ‘Nyay Patra’ (justice document), targets revising the ‘wrong-doings’ of the BJP government. The manifestos deliberate on a wide spectrum of agendas and contain a myriad of pledges for the socio-economic growth and development of India. Various aspects of Indian foreign policy have garnered particular attention as the two political parties have outlined their intentions and shared their preferred policy directions on India’s global engagements. The 2024 election manifestos of Indian political parties unveil a deeper understanding of how they view India in the international arena rather than how India is perceived in the world. While the BJP imagines a grandiose Indian foreign policy, which is dissimilar to its 2019 manifesto, the INC appears somewhat consistent in its foreign policy outlook, with a greater emphasis on relations with geographically proximate states. The foreign policy discourse in the two manifestos can be comprehended through the prism of global and regional politics.

Global Politics

The BJP’s 2024 manifesto envisions a larger role for India in global politics. It appears so due to the BJP’s keenness on two aspects. Firstly, an enhanced role among the major powers, especially in terms of participating in and influencing global decision-making and the re-making of the global order. The BJP aims to expand its network of missions and diplomats to pursue India’s global interests and secure its so-called ‘unprecedented rise’ in the global order. The desire for an enhanced role in global decision-making is also evident from the BJP’s pledge to seek permanent membership of the UN Security Council as it did in its 2019 election manifesto. The 2019 manifesto mentioned that India would ‘intensify its efforts’ towards this objective; however, such ‘efforts’ are not mentioned in the 2024 manifesto. This could be due to the reason that the BJP believes India to be in a much stronger position globally as compared to 2019. What appears to have boosted this belief is India’s closer ties with major powers and its G20 presidency.

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