Gandhinagar, Dec 8: Strange but true, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is yet to announce its manifesto for the upcoming Gujarat Assembly elections.
The voting for the first phase of Gujarat elections will take place in less than 24 hours from now, but the saffron party is still not ready with its manifesto. The opposition Congress, however, has come up with its manifesto a few days ago.
The announcement of an election manifesto by political parties, outlining the kind of work they plan to carry out if they come to power in a state or at the Centre, has been a core part of the entire election procedure since the country attained its independence.
Earlier political parties used to spend months in preparing their manifestos and announcement of manifestos were big affairs. Over the years, things have changed, and so the way our political parties fight elections.
Most often these days, parties announce their manifestos in a quiet manner, to avoid backlash in the future--if a party comes to power and not fulfill all its promises outlined in its manifesto.
But this Gujarat election season, the BJP has gone a step ahead by not announcing its manifesto till early Friday morning as the voting for the first phase of polls will take place on Saturday.
The voting for the second and final phase of Gujarat polls will take place on December 14. The results of the Assembly elections will be declared on December 18.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi lashed out at the BJP, saying that by not coming out with its manifesto for poll-bound Gujarat it has shown "unbelievable disrespect" to the people of the state.
"The BJP has shown unbelievable disrespect towards the people of Gujarat. The campaign is over and STILL no mention of a manifesto for the people, no vision and no ideas presented for Gujarat's future," Rahul said on Twitter.
The BJP has shown unbelievable disrespect towards the people of Gujarat. Campaign is over and STILL no mention of a manifesto for the people, no vision and no ideas presented for Gujarat’s future. #BJPDisrespectsGujarat— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) December 7, 2017
Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala also hit out at the BJP, tweeting, "Using 'jumla' (rhetoric) is only their (BJP's) manifesto." The Congress had released its manifesto for the election last Monday.
"Special category" quota for weaker communities with similar rights enjoyed by OBCs, farm loan waiver, setting up of "Indira canteens" to provide nutritious food for labourers at Rs 10 are some of the highlights of its manifesto.
According to reports, the BJP is likely to announce its manifesto on Friday. While speaking to reporters in private, several leaders of the saffron party stated that the party does not need to announce its manifesto as the people of the state knows on what issues the BJP is contesting the polls.
"These days, primarily social media drives election campaigns. The BJP has been aggressive on social media. Voters know that the BJP stands for development. We don't need to specifically tell people what we are going to do if we come to power.
"All our top leaders in their campaigns have been outlining the party's future plans for the state. Voters trust the spoken words of the BJP leaders. In our 22 years of rule, Gujarat has seen great progress in all fronts. People of Gujarat trust the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi," said a Gujarat BJP leader.
Earlier, in every Gujarat Assembly elections, the BJP had released its manifesto days ahead of voting diligently. This time is an aberration. Or, is it a strategy on the part of the party to let leaders speak and do all the works?
Manifesto committee member Bharat Pandya told Ahmedabad Mirror, "We have prepared the core issues of the manifesto and have submitted them to the coordination committee. However, I have no intimation of when it will be unveiled by the party."
During the three most recent elections--the Uttar Pradesh civic polls, the UP Assembly polls and the Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls-- the saffron party had released its manifesto.
Now, the question is--is it 'legal' for the BJP to announce its manifesto a day ahead of the elections (if it plans to do so)? Speaking to Ahmedabad Mirror, an official of the state Election Commission (EC) said, "It would not be a violation of norms if the BJP manifesto comes out now."
Or is the BJP (looking at the delay) planning to fight the Assembly elections in the home turf of the PM without a manifesto?