Issue Brief on “Understanding Domestic side of INC and BJP’s Election Manifestos”

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In the run-up to the 18th Lok Sabha elections, the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released their Nyay Patra and Sankalp Patra on 5 and 14 April 2024, respectively.[1] The two manifestos have extensively highlighted the past and future policies of both the parties. Their policy perscriptions and the approaches to achieve them differ, based on the capabilities as well as the calculations that the two parties have done during their respective tenures in government. As the titles of the manifestos suggest, the BJP would further accentuate its existing policy planks on domestic issues, if it wins elections again as the party touts the ‘achievements’ in the 10-year-long rule under Prime Minister Modi since 2014. The INC is pledging reformative policies because of the ‘damage’ it claims the BJP has done to India’s social, economic and political fabric.

In its manifesto, the INC presents itself as the protector and follower of India’s Constitution and federalism. The party promises to implement different Constitutional provisions for different societal segments – including women, youth, farmers, and minorities; strengthening fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution; and taking robust steps to solidify Union-State relations. For its part, the BJP does not affirm any such adherence to the Constitution, which has prompted experts to view this as further evidence of the party’s intent to modify the Indian Constitution if it comes to the power again. Congress’s language is ambitious when it talks about launching welfare schemes including reservations for farmers, youth, women, and minorities; while the BJP employs emotional phrases and connects them to policies such as pledges to arrange visits to religious sites for the old generation.

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