Today's results will show which party's promises rang truer notes with the voters, the Congress' 'People's Manifesto' or the Bharatiya Janata Party's 'Sankalp Patra'. Unlike its 2012 'vision document' with detailed and ambitious promises, the BJP's 2017 document comes across as tempered, with a focus on development without committing itself to too many deadlines.
One of the biggest promises in 2012 was the construction of 28 lakh pucca houses in rural areas and 22 lakh in urban, a number that has not been reached. The document promises to take up pucca houses for the poor again, without setting a concrete deadline. It also promised making villages into 'smart villages' and building toilets for every family in the villages.
Smart cities too will get a timely implementation, complete with multi-level parking lots. The BJP promised "international-level universities", district-level Tribal Welfare Boards and an Adivasi University. Like in 2012, it promises more generic medicine shops. Perhaps keeping in mind the rough swine flu season Gujarat had, along with the rising dengue numbers, the document promised to make the state free of vector-borne disease.
Farmer incomes will also be doubled through different means — cheap fertilisers and seeds, better irrigation, proper Minimum Support Prices and (access to) food processing. The party promised to increase the pension for widows at regular intervals.
Farmers play an important role in the Congress manifesto too, as it promised to waive farm debt and provide farmers with 16 hours of electricity. Possibly the most headline grabbing part of the party's document was promising the Patidars a quota under special category, possibly stemming from the support Hardik Patel announced for the party. A special Bill will be brought to provide quotas for those who are not presently entitled to any quota, said the manifesto, and the existing quota given to OBCs, STs and SCs will not be touched.
It also promises that every unemployed youth will be given Rs 4000 a month as unemployment allowance till he/she gets a job, as it plans Rs 32,000 crore outlay for 2.5 million unemployed youth. Also, petrol and diesel prices will be slashed by Rs 10 per litre, power tariffs will be cut by 50 per cent and power tariff reduced to Rs2/unit (for usage up to 200 units per month).
The Congress paid special attention to the press, saying a media club would be setup and media persons given subsidised houses. Additionally, a corpus will be created to help journalists and their family members in case of critical illness.
The BJP, on the other hand, made much of wanting to eliminate jaativaad (casteism), sampradayvaad (communalism) and vanshvaad (dynastic politics) from Gujarat, and have bigger allocations for programmes and agencies for the welfare of different castes and communities, as its document said. How this is to be done, isn't detailed. It also promised memorial on the life of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel at Karamsad.
Women found some place in both documents. The Congress promised a 24-hour toll-free phone and single-window women help centre, 'Pink Transport' facility for women, free education from primary to higher education and setting up a fast track court for crimes against women. The BJP promised aid for providing free higher education to girls, a special fund for empowerment of women, and to increase the pension for widows at regular intervals.
The BJP also had a section for cattle, promising to it will strictly enforce the cow slaughter law in Gujarat, and take steps to preserve the Gir and Kankrej bovine species.