India’s ruling nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will release its manifesto today for the April 11-May 19 parliamentary elections, in a bid to repeat its landslide 282-seat haul in the 2014 vote.
The BJP’s main rival, the centre-left Indian National Congress, included a plan to give a $1,046 guaranteed annual income to India’s poorest in its manifesto released on April 2. It is part of the Rahul Gandhi-led party’s declared aim to eradicate poverty by 2030.
In contrast, the BJP is expected to maintain its traditional policies—assertive policy on Pakistan, income-support for farmers and tax-cuts for businesses and the middle class. The BJP is also expected to focus on job-creation initiatives.
Despite this, the manifesto is still likely to alienate some key BJP voting blocs from 2014. The traditionally INC voting Dalits swung heavily for the historically upper-caste aligned BJP at last election on the back of fellow lower-caste Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity. However, the manifesto is unlikely to commit to strengthening anti-discrimination legislation to the extent demanded by Dalit advocates since 2014.
Consequently, a Dalit swing back to INC is expected. Although polls forecast the BJP’s coalition winning enough numbers to form government, the BJP may fail to match its massive 282-seat haul of 2014.
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John is a Senior Analyst with an interest in Indo-Pacific geopolitics. Master of International Relations (Australian National University) graduate with study focus on the Indo-Pacific. Qualified lawyer (University of Auckland, NZ) with experience in post-colonial Pacific & NZ legal systems.