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Tough choices force BJP to delay manifesto

By Ajith Vijay Kumar | Last Updated: Friday, April 4, 2014 - 10:56

Zee Media Bureau/Ajith Vijay Kumar

New Delhi: General Elections 2014 will begin with voting in two states on April 7. If opinion polls are any indicator then Narendra Modi-led BJP is expected to win big and possibly form the next government at the Centre.

But there is one crucial missing link – the BJP is yet to release its manifesto and would do so after voting begins on Monday.

The irony of the situation is that the party which was the first to name its prime ministerial candidate is finding it difficult to spell out its vision for the country.

Officially, the BJP attributed the delay to the busy campaign schedule of party bigwigs even as the document is said to have been cleared by the BJP parliamentary board – party`s highest decision making body.

However, senior party leaders have no qualms in explaining the situation in a `Modi`fied manner.
Party vice president Balbir Punj says, “Narendra bhai is addressing rallies daily and what he says is manifesto of the party. The people know what the BJP will do (after it comes to power).”

Another senior party leader, Vijay Goel, says, “Narendra Modi daily releases the party manifesto through his speeches.”

However, reports on the matter paint a different picture on the problems with the release of the document being prepared by a committee headed by party veteran Murli Manohar Joshi.

BJP`s manifesto troubles start right from the cover page of the booklet. In 2004, the manifesto had only Atal Behari Vajpayee`s picture, the situation changed in 2009 with LK Advani and party president Rajnath Singh joining Vajpayee on the cover page.

The party is faced with a big dilemma in 2014: will it only be Narendra Modi on the cover page or should he share space with Advani and Rajnath?
Considering the manner in which the BJP has turned the 2014 campaign to being one that is centred around Narendra Modi, the Gujarat CM`s supporters argue that it should be only Modi on the cover page.

However, given the individual ambitions of other party leaders and the friction between Advani and his one time confidant, the BJP has a tough choice to make.

The saffron party also has blind spots on the actual content of the manifesto. With growing acceptability across all sections of the society, the party is treading on knife`s edge on issues like the Ram Mandir, Article 370 and Uniform Civil Code.

On relatively less contentious issues like the economic policy , the party is working to find a common meeting ground between `Swadeshi` believers like Murli Manohar Joshi and `open economy` proponents like Narendra Modi.

Adding to the party`s woes is the trouble it faces with election laws by releasing the manifesto on April 7. The electronic media cannot cover it as the timing of the release falls within the 48-hour period prior to end of polling, when public display of any election matter is banned under Section 126(1)(b) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

First Published: Friday, April 4, 2014 - 10:34
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