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BJP manifesto to stick to Hindutva issues but leave room for negotiations
NEW DELHI: BJP’s manifesto for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections is expected to reiterate its commitment to Hindutva issues relating to the demand for a Ram temple at Ayodhya, uniform civil code and Article 370 as articulated in its 2009 manifesto.
The manifesto will not make any-time bound commitment on Hindutva or other issues like inflation. On economic policy, it may spell out a stand against retrospective taxation in the context of the Vodafone controversy. The document is expected to have a section on women’s empowerment.
BJP is expected to underline its commitment to Hindutva issues but will leave enough room to accommodate current and potential partners by leaving the window open to negotiation and court rulings on demands like the construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya.
On Article 370, the 2009 manifesto had said the provision was a psychological barrier to the full integration of Jammu and Kashmir with the national mainstream and BJP remains committed to its abrogation.
On the demand for a uniform civil code, the 2009 manifesto said there cannot be genuine gender equality unless India adopts a UCC. The manifesto said the BJP would set up a commission to draft a UCC in keeping with modern laws and society.
BJP sources said on all the three issues, the party would not make its position so rigid as to preclude negotiation or create hurdles in the way of alliances. In 2004, the NDA manifesto had included a reference to the Ram temple, stating that all avenues should be explored including negotiation or a court verdict.
While the BJP manifesto maintains status quo outlining its distinct stand on Hindutva issues, even with relation to some of its current partners, the party is expected to spell out its opposition to permitting FDI in multi-brand retail.
In keeping with its cautious approach, BJP is not likely to be specific on other matters related to economy and will steer clear of making commitments. So, it will not set out deadlines for commitments like controlling inflation and bringing prices under control.
The idea here is to dodge the trap that Congress fell into when it set a 100-day time frame for controlling prices, something BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi keeps reminding the ruling party at rally after rally.
Similarly, on taxation, the manifesto will not venture as far as to commit a reduction in tax rates, choosing to stop at a promise to simplify and rationalise taxation structure and procedures. However, there may be a clear cut commitment against retrospective taxation of the kind that UPA resorted to in the case of Vodafone and which has been identified as among the factors which worsened the investment climate.
The document, which will bear the stamp of Modi’s development model, will commit the party to the goal of cheap and affordable housing, but again without commitments. Emphasis on reducing current account and fiscal deficits will also avoid setting targets.
There may be a separate section on women’s issues such as empowerment and safety.