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Why does BJP release its manifesto very late?

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New Delhi, Apr 08: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is slated to release its election manifesto, which it calls Sankalp Patra (pledge document), on Monday at 11 A.M at the party headquarters here in the presence of its Parliamentary Board members.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) National President Amit Shah

It is notable that Congress president Rahul Gandhi released party manifesto titled 'Hum Nibhayenge' (We will deliver) here on Tuesday.

Interestingly, this is not the first time that the BJP will be releasing its manifesto in the month of April and after the Congress.

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In 2004 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress released its manifesto on March 02. The BJP released its manifesto on April 08 when the first phase of elections was slated to be held on April 20. Then late Atal Bihari Vajpayee was seeking the fourth term as Prime Minister. However, he couldn't get another term despite BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government's 'Shining India' campaign. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government came into power and Dr Manmohan Singh became the prime minister.

In 2009, the Congress released its manifesto on March 24 seeking the second term for Manmohan Singh led UPA government. The BJP released manifesto on April 3 and sought a mandate for its prime ministerial candidate Lal Krishna Advani in the polls starting on April 16. However, the voters still supported the Congress-led UPA government and Manmohan Singh was made prime minister for the second term.

In 2014 general elections then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi was declared BJP's prime ministerial candidate. The BJP released its manifesto on April 7, the day when the first phase of the elections was being conducted. The Congress had released its manifesto on March 26 seeking the third term for Manmohan Singh. However, the BJP broke the era of coalition governments and became the first non-Congress party after 1984 to get a clear cut majority.

A party insider tells OneIndia that it was the strategy of Modi-Shah duo to release manifesto on the first phase polling date in 2014 as the Election Commission of India (ECI) regulations say that all political parties must stop election-related canvassing 48 hours before the polling date, but there was no limit on the timing of manifesto release in 2014. Congress had cried foul and complained that it was done to influence the voters. Now, the ECI has categorically said that all political parties must release their manifestoes 48 hours before the polling starts. The first phase of Lok Sabha elections is starting on April 11 and therefore the BJP is releasing its manifesto on Monday.

"The benefit of releasing the manifesto very late is that when you come up with your poll promises then the media starts analysing them and you grab the headlines and not your competitors. For, by that time their manifestoes become old news, and nobody likes stale news. Anything new is news," says a BJP insider.

"Like the Congress, the BJP too has friendly-media houses that do an indirect campaign for the party while analysing manifesto. It surely gives an extra edge over the party's competitors. For example, the chances of a party getting votes of those voters who are not die-hard fans of any political party and make-up their minds at the last moment become high if it is in the news just before the polling" the insider adds.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, Union Cabinet Ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari, Thawar Chand Gehlot, and Jagat Prakash Nadda; former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, and National General Secretary Ramlal will be present at the manifesto release function.

The Lok Sabha election is scheduled to be held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, 2019. The counting of votes will be conducted on May 23, and the results will be declared on the same day.

Stay up to date with our election coverage here

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