New Delhi: Often charged with gross failure to deal with the challenge of farm distress, the ruling BJP on Monday sought to woo farmers and traders and also ensure that there is greater purchasing power for the middle class.
The party manifesto released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, pledged to ensure Rs 6,000 yearly income support to "all farmers" and agri loans of up to Rs one lakh at zero per cent interest and pension benefit to small traders after 60 years of age. "We remain committed to the promise of doubling farmers' incomes by 2022 and more resources will be made available if necessary," said the BJP Sankalp Patra released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The party also stood by its three core issues saying, "We reiterate our stand on Ram Mandir, we will explore all possibilities within the framework of the Constitution and all necessary efforts to facilitate the expeditious construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya". "We reiterate our position since the time of Jan Sangh to the abrogation of Article 370 (in Jammu and Kashmir)," the Sankalp Patra said.
The anguish of traders and farmers and a section of upper caste in middle income group had led to BJP's defeat in three heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in December.
Giving a clear message to traders - the BJP manifesto said "to protect the interest of small traders, we will provide an accident insurance of Rs 10 lakh to all the traders registered under GST". The Manifesto said the saffron party will provide short term new agricultural loans up to Rs 1 lakh at a zero per cent interest rate of one to five years and also that the NDA regime will launch a pension scheme for small and marginal farmers "so as to ensure social security to them on reaching 60 years of age". "We are committed to making an investment of Rs 25 lakh crore to improve the productivity of the farm sector," the party pledged. Small traders like the small and marginal farmers will be given pension benefits after 60 years of age.
The BJP Manifesto especially seeking to make an impact among the farmers, traders and middle income groups comes close on the heels of Congress in its revival journey making an effort to win over the poor with its NYAY - the minimum income scheme. In fact, the BJP-led NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee government was voted out of power due to undercurrent of unhappiness against the government of the day - despite its towering claim of 'India Shining'.
In 2004 polls, Congress slogan 'Congress Ka Haath, Aam Aadmi ke Saath' proved much useful and Sonia Gandhi-led UPA had stormed to power.
For the middle class, it said the saffron party is committed to further revising the tax slabs and the tax benefits to ensure more cash and greater purchasing power in the hands of middle-income families. "We will make all efforts to ensure that our aspirational middle class has access to education, employment opportunities and suitable urban infrastructure for a better quality life," it said.
The saffron outfit also explored all options to facilitate the construction of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. The manifesto pledged to take the country to new heights ensuring national security and achieving a new milestone globally. Notwithstanding strong opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Assam, the BJP said it is firm about its commitment to push for the enactment of the draft bill. The saffron party in its manifesto released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi also said that if it returns to power, the NDA will implement "the NRC in a phased manner in other parts of the country".
"We are committed to the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Bill for the protection of individuals of religious minority communities from neighbouring countries escaping persecution," the manifesto said. However, it said the party will make all efforts to clarify the issues to the sections of population from the Northeastern states who have expressed apprehensions regarding the legislation. UNI