The Congress on Wednesday hit the nail on the BJP’s head, saying that the delay in releasing its manifesto reflected the deep personality clashes within the saffron party, “which is seeking a mandate for one individual”.
The BJP, which was scheduled to unveil its manifesto on April 3, has delayed it further by almost a week. Party sources said the manifesto would be released on April 7, the day when the first phase of polling would have begun.Said Congress leader Jairam Ramesh: “Elections start on April 7. Today, we are on April 2 and the BJP’s manifesto is yet to be released... At least they should release the manifesto for 33 minutes like Rajnath Singh promised BJP sarkar for 33 minutes before he was forced to change it to Modi sarkar.” Ramesh further rubbed it in saying that it was not a manifesto but “Modifesto”.
“It’s probably that the Sushma chapter, the Advani chapter, the Jaitley chapter and Yashwant Sinha chapter could not be put together in one document,” he added. The Congress released its manifesto on March 26.
Sources said senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, who was in charge of drafting the manifesto, was so miffed over the way certain things were forced into document that he almost gave up on it. Now, the manifesto will be jointly released by L K Advani, Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitely, Joshi and other members of the drafting committee. The manifesto preparation, which began in July, had also suffered when Joshi and other committee members like Yashwant Sinha, Jawsant Singh were being sidelined over ticket distribution. Another reason for the delay is that the BJP is yet to complete its list of Lok Sabha candidates, at least 15 candidates in Andhra Pradesh and several in Uttar Pradesh are still left.
“Our understanding is that first the entire exercise of declaring candidates should be over,” a BJP leader told Express. And party leader Subramanian Swamy tried to play down the delay.
From promising tax reforms to selling dreams of increasing FDI in several sectors to creating job opportunities, the manifesto is likely to have a distinct Modi stamp. Modi has already hinted at some of the schemes and promises that are likely to be part of the 50-page document titled ‘Ek Bharat, Sreshth Bharat’ (one India, foremost India). While the manifesto is likely to touch upon issues such as Article 370 and the Ram temple, party leaders said they were matters of faith and couldn’t be reduced to elections issues.