War on Terror, Poverty – Central Themes in BJP Manifesto

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday released its poll manifesto on Friday, the document which came in for immediate attacks from political opponents is woven around a promise to retrieve Indian money stashed abroad, a substantial raise in income tax limits and rice at subsidized rates to BPL families.

The release function held in New Delhi coincided with Ram Navami and was attended by a host of party leaders including NDA prime ministerial hopeful LK Advani, party president Rajnath Singh and heacd of the manifesto committee Murli Manohar Joshi among others.

Coming amid the ongoing economic burn-out, the manifesto aims at resurrecting the economy using an alternative path, tackling terrorism and improving the law and order situation in the country.

The document also clarified the BJP stand on the Ayodhya issue, responsible for the party’s meteoric rise in the 1990s and said that the Ram Setu could be developed a a center for cultural-tourism.

“There is an overwhelming desire of the people in India and abroad to have a grand temple at the birth place of Sri Ram in Ayodhya. The BJP will explore all possibilities, including negotiations and judicial proceedings, to facilitate the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya,” said the document.

“Ram Setu is our national heritage. Millions want to visit it and it can be developed as a centre of cultural tourism. For millions it is a place of pilgrimage.”

In a veiled attack on the ruling UPA, the vision document struck a balance between the country’s cultural identity and a grave nee for energy while saying that saving the Ram Setu would mean saving thorium deposits which are the future source of our energy.

The manifesto promises all armed forces and paramilitary personnel would be exempted from income tax if the party was voted to power and said all individuals with an annual income of up to Rs.300,000 would be exempted from income tax.

Fuelling the great middle class dream of owning a house, the manifesto says interest rates on housing loans to would be brought down to make urban housing affordable.

The party also promised complete tax exemption to citizens above the age of 60.

The document also promises to cheap food grains at around Rs 2/kg to Below Poverty Line (BPL) families, and promises to make available at least 35 kg of rice at Rs 2 per Kg to them every month as against 30kg promised by Congress at Rs 3/kg.

Madhya Pradesh chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s ambitious Ladli Lakshmi Yojna will also be implemented across the country, said party spokesman Ravi Shanka Prasad.

The party will also implement the successful IT and industrial model of Gujarat government, he added.

The party has also promised to provide bicycles for school-going girls belonging to BPL families in a bid to curb the drop-out rates in schools and heighten literacy amongst the rural poor.

For the country’s huge farming community, the manifesto promises to provide farm loans at four per cent interest and full waiver of all existing farm loans.

Addressing the central theme of the party campaign for Lok Sabha, the manifesto promises to wage war against enemies of the nation, and pledges several measures to enhance internal and external security apart from countering terrorism.

The document said that if voted to power, the BJP will bring “an improved law on the lines of the Prevention of Terrorist Activities (POTA) Act” and said naval security would be enhanced to secure the 4,000 km coastline.

The manifesto said illegal immigrants will be detected, detained and deported and fencing will secure the India-Bangladesh border.

The party also promises the use of “coercive diplomacy to isolate and compel countries engaging in exporting terror across the border” and promises to turn off the foreign tap on separatist groups operating in the country.

In the issue of red terror, the manifesto said the party will weed out naxalism by waging a relentless war against the Maoist insurgents, without mentioning the Salwa Judum it said that the Chhattisgarh model would be followed to end the menace.

The party also advocated the introduction of a comprehensive National Identity Card for all citizens.

Attacking the BJP for its manifesto, Congress on Friday said the party was “not in tune” with India and had “lost” its way.

In its first reaction to the document, the Congress said the BJP manifesto was breft of value.

“Their problem is they give an agenda to people which has no value because when it comes to NDA, the partners are not willing to accept their agenda. Therefore, this is not a national agenda. This is a parochial BJP agenda which has no value,” Union minister and Congress spokesperson Kapil Sibal said in New Delhi.

Ashwini Kumar, another Congress spokesman too slammed BJP for raking up the Ram temple issue ahead of elections.

“Whenever elections come, BJP rakes up the issue of Ram temple to divide the country and society,” he said.

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