Thursday, April 16, 2009

Congress vs BJP ... Election Manifesto...a study !!!

As a Lead India ambassador, over the last few days, I have had discussions in groups as well as one-on-one with people from diverse backgrounds, & I get a sense that while almost everyone is quite eager to vote this time, they are strangely caught up in a dilemma……whom to vote?? In some cases, people want to vote for an individual, but are not sure about the representative party, & in some cases it’s the opposite……the representative party looks good, but the contesting candidate comes up with questionable background……so wht to do???

I had some time back read the comment of a very learned man on this subject, & he had mentioned that as a thumb rule, when it is time to chose the Central Govt/ Parliament, look at the credentials of the party, & when it is time to chose State Govt/ Assembly, look at the credentials of the individuals. Come to think of it, this actually makes a lot of sense.

Since this is General Elections for the Parliament, let us examine the two leading contesting parties & their manifestos, before casting our precious votes :

Congress manifesto : (please read in details)
Salient features ->
The Slogan for this election : “Aam Aadmi ke Badhte Kadam, Har Kadam Par Bharat Buland”
The manifesto starts with a ‘Preface’ & then ‘Why Congress?’….. speaking of Congress vs BJP as Secular vs Communal, with also a significant mention of the Third Front as ‘a recipe for chaos’.
In the later part of the manifesto, there is a brief on the ‘Achievements of the Congress led UPA Govt’. Here there are mention of achievements which are certainly questionable, especially in terms of education drives, economic growth, deployment of funds, Law & Order etc. At the end is ‘The Way Forward’, which again seems to make promises, which are very generic in nature….almost the same repetitive statements, we have been hearing since our Independence, & for more than 50 years, without much success.
Can we therefore have any confidence in Congress to give us a safer, growth oriented future???? Can we still have a “Chatla hai” attitude???? Can we still allow this colossal decay to continue????
Since Congress has always harped on being Secular, let us also quickly examine what this stands for.
The word 'Secular' was coined by a British writer, George Holyoake, in 1846. He invented the term to describe his views of ‘promoting a social order which is separate from religion, without actively dismissing or criticizing any religious belief’. In other words, it is the right to be free from religious rule and teachings, and freedom from the government imposition of religion upon the people, within a state that is neutral on matters of belief, and gives no state privileges or subsidies to religions. Simplistically, it means, equal rights to all, without any bias !!!
In my previous blogs I have been quite candid & informative on how Secular the Congress Govt has been over the years. Do we still want to believe in them & their policies ????

Let us now examine the manifesto of the other National party…..the BJP.
BJP manifesto : (please read in details)
Salient features ->
The slogan for this election : “Good Governance; Development; Security …. To build a Prosperous, Powerful Nation, Recall India’s Past”
The manifesto starts with an insight to India’s historical capabilities & achievements over the centuries, by Mr Murli Manohar Joshi, Chairman, Manifesto committee.
After that it moves to the need of a decisive Leader with specific focus on National issues starting with National Security, engagement with the world, where ‘India’s voice shall be heard’…..which means better international diplomatic ties, with specific attention to neighboring countries. It then speaks of Defending India, with specific focus on Nuclear Program, Food Security & Energy Security. There is clear mandate on reviving the Economy, building a strong Urban India, Agriculture, Farmer’s interests in terms of Land, Trade Agreements & Labour. Then it moves to Youth & Empowerment, Education at all levels with better policies, Science & Technology, IT, Sports, Women Empowerment, their progress & their rights, focus on the Backward Classes, Tribal Development, focus on Senior Citizens, Disabled & their benefits, Minorities & their Protections, General Health improvement measures for all, Environment, focus on states like J&K, NE, small States which need attention, Panchayati Raj etc.
In the end it speaks of preserving our National Heritage at all fronts.

Clearly, the BJP, at least in their manifesto have put down clear road map for India ahead. At least the vision speaks of National interests & focus. It speaks of better Secular policies & strong Governance. In short, it inspires confidence.
BJP has had only one proper stint under the leadership of Atal Behari Vajpayee. Though, plagued by the pressures of coalition, the NDA Govt had still managed to bring about “India Shining”. They had implemented a lot of progressive policies which resulted in India emerging as a global Super Power, & I believe, that if they had won the next elections(2004 elections), they would have been able to enjoy the fruits of their efforts & consolidated India on a clear growth path.
We are a Hindu country through centuries & I see no reason why we can’t take pride in saying that. India is a secular democratic, where people from all religions & faith can co exist, happily & prosperously. BJP & their Hindutva ideologies are not communal in nature, as is mostly made out by the Congress, their allies & media. In fact, their policies according to me sound more Secular & universal than Congress. It is not a divide & rule policy, but strong governance based on our rich & ancient heritage. We have never given them a fair chance to prove themselves…………let us do it this time.

These are my views, & I have attempted to compare notes of the two largest parties in their manifesto. I am sure, both the parties boast of good & capable Leaders, but like I said at the beginning, this is an election for the Centre…..the Parliament. This demands that we look at the party & its objectives more closely.
We need to exercise our Voting rights intelligently. We need to choose a strong Government at the Centre.....

Jai Hind


Ronobijay said...

Hmm.. I don't entirely agree with you on looking at credentials of a party during a national (general) election. I am not quite sure if either the BJP or the Congress has provided good governance or high-quality vision/leadership in the absolute sense. Relative to each other - we can have a healthy debate. There are states where the Congress govt has done well, and others where they have failed miserably. The same is true of any party.
I live in a state that has been ruled (and milked/mined dry) by all sorts of parties. Parties are made up of individuals, who by way of their actions, "create" the credentials of their party. Can you remember the last time a senior politico of any party took the rap for any attack, mismanagement of a tragedy or failure of governance, inability to provide the basic necessities of life? The answer is obvious - and forgive my cynicism, but that's how it will remain!
There is always a vested interest in mixing religion with political ideology - extreme right-wing politics is a dangerous pastime anyway - and it's quite simple - vote. Most politicians (and therefore their parties) become seriously rich by serving their "poor" constituents - let's face it, it starts with a noble intent (I'd like to believe that), then becomes all about the money, then about the power, and finally evolves to power-broking!
I know, I'm not providing a solution - but I think we definitely need to look at individual credentials, track record and potential - before deciding who we vote for. Yes, that might fragment the national parliament, but atleast I have someone's neck to catch if they screw up!

Biprashish said...

As usual, a wonderful assessment Rono. That's why I keep pushing you to comment.
Your theory of looking at individuals rather than the party has some merit in terms of catching someone's neck, if he screws up.....but I stiil feel that the larger issue is to create a stable Govt at the Centre, and like you agree, going for individuals would lead to a fragmented Centre, which is not a wise thing to do from a National interest. Thats why my logic to looking at individuals for the assembly elections, & party for the Parliament.
I did a comparison on manifesto, so that at least the vision is clear...finally, we all know that most of the outstanding promises finally remain outstanding!!!! But once there is a vision, at least some bit of that agenda would be achieved... I do live in hope.
Healthy debate can happen on wht Congress has achieved vs BJP...& I am open to that debate.
Hindutva has for a lot of wrong reasons being branded as extreme right wing politics...& I dont agree on that. Its time be came forward & take pride in being a Hindu Nation, where all religions co exist & co habit....there's nothing wrong in it....probably, our soft stand till now has given rise to such levels of corruption, social divide & finally the unrest.
I think educated individuals like us need to show the way of being truly Secular & own up responsibility towards building for a better tomorrow.
I know you are capable of putting forward candid & progressive ideas, through your pen.... do that,(I am doing so) & that could be your contribution towards a better tomorrow...for us all.

Jaya Ray said...

I think today- none of the parties have the capability to run the government as a PARTY- this is because,all of them have some controversial and immature stances through which they are trying to win the votes of the people. Their promises and manifesto have really no truth in them whatsoever. Both parties have been in power but have not been able to address the most urgent and burning issues till date. Merely publishing a manifesto is of no use unless, you prove your performance to the public. If you ask anyone to give an unbiased opinion, I am sure, he/she would agree with me.

The manifestoes should be completely changed and modified by the public through a mass emailing system taken control by a responsible media. The responsbilities of the basic requirements of the country should be given to a few individuals and given a time frame within which they have to achieve their targets and show the results to the public through the media again. if they are able to satisfy the public, then a party should be formed with the consent of the public. ALL transactions of the party then should be done through an e-governance system which will be monitored through a third party organisation.

Venkat Kaundinya said...

The BJP and the Sangh Parivar have lost out in the last elections because of the growing strength of the regional parties that pledged their support to the congress. This time too the regional parties will be the deciding factor. The growth of regional parties has its own advantages in terms of region-wise development where centre-state co-ordination is improved. As in your blogs you have mentioned about the blame-game played by the centre and state on who is responsible for the lawlessness, non-governance etc, this problem can be sorted out to some extent by electing the parliamentary representatives from the regional parties.

Biprashish said...

Dear Jaya,
Very well articulated. However, I believe, if the manifesto is in place, then we can expect at least some least an attempt towards it. And then, we the populace need to be able to pressurise the Govt to comply by what they promise.
I know, both BJP & Congres have failed to do most of what they claimed, but I feel that while Congrees got more than 55 years of rule, BJP got just one full term & that too being under immense pressure from the allies. I feel, they deserve one full term & with popular majority.....I still feel, they did bring about some significant they deserve to be given one more real chance. Its like chosing the lesser corrupt & lesser evil...

However, do read my earlier column on "We Can because we Believe We Can"....I hve actually written on similar lines of your happy that we think alike...lets contribute like this to create a Nation wide stir towards improvement & accountability...

Biprashish said...

Dear Venkat,
Quite right....the regional players would be the King makers for this General Elections....again!! unfortunately, thats where, the politics & good Governance loses out to money & portfolio sharing... wish our Leaders were more conscious & pledged their Loyalty to the Country rather than their narrow interests....
Interesting, but challenging times ahead...

Harshal said...


I would like to comment on the issue of secularism. As you had mentioned, the word was coined in England in 1846. The reason for that as I know is the interference of church in the government. (And this thing also led probably a little earlier to the protestant movement in Christianity). We still have an example of what is a church-led state and that the Vatican city.

We in India never had similar concept religion-led state. So I feel the word secular is not pertinent to use in Indian scenario.

Secondly, we are a secular state by law. (It I think means equal treatment to all religions). So if someone feels that some party is not secular he/she can file a complaint in court or EC. Otherwise its not just incorrect to say someone is not secular but in fact misguiding people and hence a crime.

Biprashish said...

Dear Harshal,
Wonderful observation & very pertinent information on why the word Secular was coined.....
The people in our our country need to realise the actual meaning of this word & understand the history behind it. The people also need to come face to face with who is actually Secular & who is not.
I implore you to visit my blog & write would be useful to viewers all over.
Jai Hind

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