BJP vs Cong: What Manifestoes Promise on Kashmir, Article 370, Terrorism and Farmers' Distress
While the Congress manifesto starts with a plan to increase employment, the BJP has made national security its top priority in 'Sankalp Patra’.
File photo of PM Narendra Modi and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.
New Delhi: From farmer distress, national security and women empowerment to unemployment, economic growth and good governance, the BJP had a plethora of issues to choose from for its manifesto, released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah on Monday. With days left in the Lok Sabha elections, how have the BJP and the Congress prioritised their focus areas?
While the Congress manifesto, titled 'Hum Nibhayenge', begins with a plan to increase employment, the BJP has made national security its top priority in the manifesto ‘Sankalp Patra’.
The Congress then goes on to provide roadmaps in the following order -- farmers, welfare of armed forces, national security, good governance and women. The BJP's order of providing future roadmaps is mentioned in the order of farmers, economy, infrastructure and healthcare.
Both the manifestoes reflect the manner in which the parties have built their political campaigns for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The saffron party has focused mostly on national security, relying on its recent achievements of anti-satellite missile systems and Balakot air strike. The Congress, on the other hand, has centered its poll campaign around its proposed NYAY scheme promising a minimum Rs 72,000 yearly income to India's 20 per cent poorest citizens.
If there is one common theme in the manifestoes of both the parties, it is that both have left the second spot for farmers, detailing at length their programs for alleviating farm distress.
Apart from these broad subjects, this is how the two parties stand on specific issues:
The Congress has promised its minimum income support program, targeting five crore poorest families making 20 per cent of India's poorest section, by giving them a yearly income of Rs 72,000, delivered in the account of the female in the family.
The BJP has promised pucca houses by 2022, subsidised food grains to 80 crore poorest Indians, sugar at Rs 13/kilo and further strengthening of the Jan Dhan Yojana.
On Kashmir, Article 370 and 35A
The Congress says dialogue is the only way forward to facilitate the issue, for which it plans to appoint three interlocutors. It promises to end infiltration and win hearts and minds of locals, reduce troop presence in the Valley and add more troops at the border. It also mentions a review of stringent acts like AFSPA and Disturbed Areas Act. No tampering with Article 370 and no word on Kashmiri Pandits.
The BJP has promised abrogation of Article 370, annulment of Article 35A and efforts to ensure safe return of Kashmiri Pandits.
The saffron party has announced zero tolerance on terrorism and extremism, 'free hand' to security forces in combating terrorism and multilaterateral cooperation on terrorism.
Congress says it will set up National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NATGRID), have an uncompromising approach and hard measures to put an end to terrorism and multilateral cooperation to combat terrorism.
The BJP will provide 'short-term' agricultural loans up to Rs 1 lakh at an interest for 1-5 years 'on the condition of prompt repayment of principal amount'. A pension scheme for small and marginal farmers 'to ensure social security' to those who are 60 years and older is also on the cards, although the amount hasn't been specified.
The Congress offers MGNREGA 3.0, in which 150 days of assured work will be provided. A separate 'Kisan Budget', National Commission on Agricultural Development and Planning & Commission on Marginal Farmers and Agricultural Labour will look into specific issues of farmers. Fasal Beema Yojana will be revamped and insurance companies will be directed to offer crop insurance and charge premiums on the principle of ‘no profit, no loss.’ Recognising ownership and tenancy rights of women farmers is another promise made by the party.
On GST and MSMEs
The BJP has promised simplification of GST and expansion of Credit Guarantee Scheme, wherein loans to MSME are guaranteed. “Under this alone, the credit of around Rs 19,000 crore was achieved in 2017-18. We would aim to take this figure to Rs1,00,000 crore by 2024,” the manifesto says. The party will also create a single-window compliance and dispute resolution mechanism for MSMEs.
An easier GST 2.0 regime that will be based on a single, moderate, standard rate of tax on all goods and services is what the Congress manifesto promises. A rehabilitation plan for the MSMEs that were severely affected and to “help them revive and grow” and exported goods and services to levy zero-rated are also mentioned in the manifesto.
On SCs, STs, OBCs
The BJP says it will ensure benefits of constitutional provisions of the SCs, STs and OBCs. “We will ensure that proper representation and opportunities are available.”
The Congress will “enhance representation at all levels of the judiciary for women, SC, ST, OBC, minorities and other under-represented sections of society for these sections.” It also promises Equal Opportunities Commission, which will “recommend affirmative action strategies and policies to achieve equality—and equity—in education, employment and in economic opportunities.”
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