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BJP Manifesto: Rich In Vision, Missing Specifics

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Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the party that Exit Polls predict to be the front runner to form the next government, has a very tough job ahead, if it intends to fulfill the promises in its election manifesto.
The highest priority item in its agenda -- tackling runaway food inflation -- could prove to be the most difficult one to achieve in a short span of time.
A closer look at the BJP manifesto reveals that steps outlined by the party to rein in inflation are mostly long term measures. It wants to put in place strict measures and special courts to stop hoarding and black marketing. It talks about setting up a Price Stabilisation Fund. It wants to unbundle the operations of Food Corporation of India (FCI) into procurement, storage and distribution for greater efficiency.
Further, the party promises to leverage on technology to disseminate real time data to farmers - on production, prices, imports, stocks and overall availability and aims at creating a single 'National Agriculture Market'. Promotion and support for area specific crops and vegetables linked to food habits of the people is another proposed step.
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Unfortunately, none of them are shortcuts to tame inflation. The manifesto is also silent about the fiscal measures the party led government would like to take to control inflation.
On taxation, the party has just acknowledged the need for a “tax policy roadmap” and stated that its government will provide a non adversarial and conducive tax environment, rationalise and simplify the tax regime, overhaul the dispute resolution mechanisms, bring on board all state governments in adopting GST, among other promises.
While BJP is putting the entire blame of the economic slowdown on “policy and decision making paralysis” of the UPA government, the manifesto does not propose any concrete remedies to rejuvenate the economy. What it promises is that it will find solutions, which are effective in the short run and lasting in the long run. It hopes to strictly implement fiscal discipline, without compromising on funds availability for development work and asset creation. It wants to allocate resources efficiently and effectively to re-energise the engines of growth and re-visit the policy framework for investments both foreign and domestic to make them more conducive. Banking reforms to enhance ease and access, as well as accountability and encouragement of savings as an important driver of investment and growth are the other suggestions.
While some experts consider the UPA government’s excessive social sector dole outs and subsidies as one of the reasons for persisting inflation, the BJP manifesto give little leeway in terms of correction. It holds on the food security programme of the UPA while mentioning that it will review all the laws and schemes, in consultation with the states, to ensure a corruption-free efficient implementation of food security, on a priority basis. The other flagship social sector programme of UPA, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) will also continue, with an enlarged scope, as BJP wants agriculture to be included as one of the activities that can come under the programme.
As a vision statement, though, the 52 page manifesto stands out for its inclusiveness and feel good factor.