NEW DELHI: Right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) outlined its key policies in the document released with fanfare in New Delhi, three days before elections begin.
The party also said it would scrap a historic law providing special rights to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir, a move that is likely to spike tension in the tinderbox state.
“We believe that Article 35A is an obstacle in the development of the state,” the party’s manifesto said.
Article 35A was incorporated in the Constitution by the 1954 Presidential order which conferred special rights including government employment, acquisition of immovable property, settlement in the state, grant of scholarship and any such form of aid to the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir by the state government.
To guarantee these special rights and privileges, the 1954 Presidential order said no existing law in force in Jammu and Kashmir, or that enacted by the state legislature in respect of the special rights and privileges of the permanent residents “shall be void on the grounds that it is inconsistent with or takes away or abridges any rights conferred on the other citizens of India by any provision of this part (III)”.
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“Nationalism is our inspiration … good governance is our mantra,” Modi, 68, said at the launch on Monday.
“It (the manifesto) is multi-layered and multi-dimensional because our society is very diverse. We can’t have a one-size-fits-all kind of policy. It addresses the needs of all sections of society.”
The BJP manifesto has made 75 promises sought to woo Hindu voters and farmers.
The party said it was committed to building a grand temple for Hindu god Rama “as soon as possible in a harmonious way” and pass a citizenship bill that would grant Indian nationality to Hindus from neighbouring countries.
The conflict over whether a temple or a mosque should be constructed in the holy city of Ayodhya is a major flashpoint between Hindus and India’s sizeable Muslim minority.
The BJP manifesto comes on the heels of a similar document released by Congress last week which promised to “create wealth and guarantee welfare” to India’s 1.3 billion people.
Congress had announced 72,000 rupees ($1,045) each to India’s poorest 250 million families.
Recent opinion polls, although notoriously unreliable, suggest Congress is trailing BJP ahead of India’s mega-election running from April 11 to May 19.
The BJP, which decimated Congress as it swept to power in 2014, has been riding a nationalistic wave, vowing to protect the country against Pakistan-backed “terrorism“.