BJP pledges ‘good governance’ in 2014 manifesto
New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pledged on Monday to end policy paralysis, corruption and "tax terrorism", while opposing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail. However, it stuck to its core agenda of the construction of the Ram Temple, the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) and abrogation of Article 370 that gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Unveiling a roadmap for economic revival through good governance, the party, in its 42-page manifesto released before a galaxy of leaders, including prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, said its government will strategically develop high-impact domains like labour-intensive manufacturing and tourism.
While talking of good governance, a campaign theme for Modi, the party document significantly brought contentious issues like the Ram Temple in Ayodhya to the fore and promised to explore all possibilities within the Constitution.
On the UCC the manifesto said Article 44 of the Constitution lists this as one of the directive principles of state policy.
"BJP believes that there cannot be gender equality till such time India adopts a UCC which protects the rights of all women and the BJP reiterates its stand to draft a UCC drawing upon the best traditions and harmonising them with modern times," said the document prepared by a committee chaired by senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi.
Dealing with Article 370 in the chapter on Jammu and Kashmir, the manifesto said: "the BJP reiterates its stand on the Constitution provision and will discuss this with all stakeholders and remains committed to the abrogation of this article."
Return of the Kashmiri Pandits to the land of their ancestors with full dignity, security and assured livelihood will figure hight on the BJP's agenda, it said.
Modi did not take any questions at the manifesto release function. He was specifically asked for his comments about Amit Shah's controversial "revenge" remark but Joshi intervened to say this question did not pertain to the manifesto.
Asked about reported differences within the party over the inclusion of the Ram Temple issue, Joshi said: "whatever is there is there in the manifesto. If you want to write something on the basis of your own perceptions, you are free to do".
To a query if the party was trying to confuse voters by raking up Hindutva issues while projecting governance and development, Joshi said: "this has nothing to do with Hindutva or athva (otherwise). This is only a promise of development programme."
He said Hindutva has never been an election issue and that the manifesto was based on issues of development and governance.
"We have put it in the section on ‘Cultural Heritage’. What is culturally important for us we have said," Joshi said, referring to the promise on Ram Temple. He added the issue had been included in the previous election manifesto too and the party's stand remained unchanged.
Terming the period of UPA I and II as "decade of decay", the manifesto said India had a "free fall" on all fronts, including governance, economy, diplomacy, foreign policy, border safety, etc.
The document went on to say that at the same time, corruption, scams and crime against women have been reached "unacceptable" level. It also indicated a gross misuse of government and institutions and an erosion of authority of the office of prime minister.
The manifesto said the country has suffered a "decade of maladministration and scams" besides "decision and policy paralysis" under UPA, thus bringing growth and development to a grinding halt leading to a governance deficit.
"This situation will be changed and the engine of government will be ignited again with strong will power and commitment to public interest. We will also encourage the bureaucracy to take right decisions and contribute their might in building a modern India," it said.
Under the chapter ‘Reform the System’, it promised Good Governance, which will be transparent, effective, involving and encouraging and include reforms of administration, judiciary, police and election.
"We will establish a system which will eliminate the scope of corruption through public awareness, technology enabled e-governance, system based policy-driven governance, rationalisation and simplification of the tax regime and simplification of the process and procedures at all levels," the manifesto said.
Referring to the black money issue, the BJP document said its government will initiate process of tracking down and bringing back the black money stashed in foreign banks and offshore accounts.
"We will set up a task force for this purpose and to recommend amendments to existing laws or enact new laws. The process of bringing back black money to India will be put in motion on priority. We will also proactively engage with foreign governments to facilitate information sharing on black money."
The manifesto accused the Congress-led UPA government of unleashing 'tax terrorism and uncertainty' and engendering 10 years of jobless growth.
Giving high priority to revival of growth and job creation, the party promised to contain inflation, pursue tax reforms and promote foreign investments but would continue to oppose FDI in multi-brand retail while welcoming foreign investment.
Unveiling a tax reform roadmap, the BJP promised to provide a non-adversarial, conducive tax environment, rationalise and simplify the tax regime, overhaul the dispute resolution mechanisms, bring on board all state governments in adopting Goods and Service Tax (GST) and provide tax incentives for investments in R&D.
On FDI, the party said barring the multi-brand retail sector, foreign investment will be allowed in sectors wherever needed for job and asset creation, infrastructure and acquisition of niche technology.
"BJP is committed to protect the interest of small and medium retailers, small and medium enterprises and those employed by them," it said.
Under the heading 'Economic Revival', the manifesto said the BJP government will bring back credibility and trust in government, re-sow confidence in the India story domestically as well as internationally.
The document pledged to spur the process of economic growth through long-term policies, strict implementation of fiscal discipline, re-visit the policy framework for investments both foreign and domestic to make them more conducive and undertake banking reforms.
It promised to set up a Price Stabilisation Fund to check inflation, ensure fiscal discipline and pursue banking sector reforms to deal with the problem of rising bad loans.
"The country has been dragged through 10 years of jobless growth by the Congress-led UPA Government. Under the broader economic revival, BJP will accord high priority to job creation and opportunities for entrepreneurship," it said while unveiling the road map for the future.
With regard to the agriculture sector, the manifesto promises to create a single 'National Agriculture Market' and increase public investment in the farm sector.
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