The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released its election manifesto for the 2022 Uttar Pradesh polls on Tuesday, hours before the campaign for the first of the seven-phase voting ended. Titled Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra (vision document for public welfare), the BJP manifesto promises a long list of ‘freebies’ while trying to keep the core Hindutva voting bloc intact.
Among the BJP’s top promises are free electricity to farmers for irrigation and job and self-employment opportunities to at least one member of each family. It has also promised 10-year jail and Rs 1 lakh penalty to those found guilty under the law against what is called Love Jihad luring women or girls to marriage for religious conversion.
In January 2017, when then BJP president Amit Shah released the party’s manifesto, the disappearance of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee from the cover page had become the talking point. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who passed away in 2018, was the tallest leader of the party from Uttar Pradesh and was the lone face on the manifesto cover in 2012.
Vajpayee’s image gave way to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah in the 2017 election manifesto. Others to feature were then Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and now Rajasthan governor Kalraj Mishra, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and then Union minister Uma Bharti, and then Uttar Pradesh BJP president Keshav Prasad Maurya who is now UP deputy chief minister .
The cover page appeared to give representation to different communities. Rajnath Singh represented Thakurs, Mishra Brahmins, Bharti influential Lodhs among the backward castes and Maurya the backward castes.
In 2022, the cover page displays the photographs of PM Modi and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. This fits the BJP’s projection of strong leadership at the Center and state levels as the party seeks a vote for its double-engine sarkar.
If Love Jihad has made its way to the 2022 election manifesto of the BJP, it was “anti-Romeo squads” in 2017 that appeared in the Sankalp Patra to promote a “Sashakt Naari, Samaan Adhikaar” agenda. The idea was to set up special teams at police station levels to tackle the incidents of eve-teasing.
However, before going into the polls, some BJP leaders told public rallies that anti-Romeo squads were linked to the party campaign against Love Jihad. After the BJP was voted to power, the government set up anti-Romeo squads in 2017 and also brought an anti-conversion law in 2020 that regulated religious conversion through marriage.
In 2017, the BJP promised to wave off all farmer loans. It said the farmers would be eligible for loans with zero per cent interest. This time, the BJP promised free electricity for farmers.
In 2017, the BJP promised sugarcane farmers payment within 14 days of selling their crops. Curiously, the same promise features in the 2022 Sankalp Patra as well.
Additionally, the BJP has promised a Rs 5,000 crore irrigation scheme and Rs 1,000 crore for payment under the Minimum Support Price (MSP) regime towards crops like potato, tomato and onion. In 2017, the BJP promised to set up a Rs 20,000 crore CM irrigation fund.
In 2017, the BJP promised a Rs 50,000-bond for a poor family on the birth of a girl child. Cash transfers were promised, ranging from Rs 3,000 to Rs 8,000 to her bank account on reaching Class 6, 8, 10 and 12. When she turned 21, she would be given Rs 2 lakh.
Now, the BJP has promised a free scooty to college-going female students, two additional cylinders of LPG to women on Holi and Diwali, Rs 1 lakh to a poor family on the wedding of their daughters, Rs 1,500 monthly pension to widows and destitute women.
In 2017, the BJP promised 70 lakh jobs and self-employment opportunities over the next five years and free laptops with one GB monthly data for students.
For the 2022 assembly polls, the BJP has promised at least one employment per family, free coaching for competitive exams, 2 crore smartphones and tablets, gym and sporting grounds in every gram panchayat, doubling the MBBS seats and recruitment of 6,000 doctors and 10,000 para -medical staff.
In both manifestos, the BJP promised to fulfill vacancies in the government departments.
CM Yogi Adityanath held a meeting of top government officials to review the status of the 2017 poll promises. Reports quoted an official spokesperson as saying, “Yes, the chief minister reviewed the promises made in the Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra-2017. We will come out with details soon. About 99 per cent of the promises made in Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra-2017 have been already fulfilled.”
The Opposition, however, accused the BJP of not fulfilling the promises made to the voters of Uttar Pradesh particularly over employment, betterment of farmers, and safety of women.
However, the BJP draws confidence from two of its core promises that were fulfilled through the Supreme Court judgments. In 2017, the BJP manifesto talked about presenting the instant triple talaq case in a stronger way to get a favorable judgment. On the Ram Mandir issue, it said the party would expedite the legal process for the construction of the temple in Ayodhya. The BJP goes to the Uttar Pradesh polls with both these promises fulfilled.