TRIVANDRUM: As India’s national election got under way on Monday, Congress President Sonia Gandhi said the BJP’s “communal agenda” was a “grave threat” to the country’s unity and integrity.
People in five Lok Sabha seats in Assam and one in Tripura cast their votes. The two northeastern states recorded a huge turnout of 72.5 per cent and 84 percent respectively. Addressing a press conference in Delhi, the Election Commission said the polling percentage in Assam is set to cross 75.
Addressing a rally in Thrissur, Kerala, Sonia said: “Our opponent’s communal agenda is a grave threat to our country’s unity and integrity and Congress is the only party that can ensure that the country remains united.”
She added: “Do the people of India truly give up the values they cherish and trust those who have “hitched their political careers on falsehoods and blatant lies?” she said.
Meanwhile, Narendra Modi, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, promised good governance and inclusive development as his party released its manifesto.
The much-delayed document is a rewrite of the “Modi vision” that he handed the party at a conclave in January. Economic growth and inflation are headline points, the Hindutva agenda is muted.
In a manifesto that promises economic revival, the BJP says it will link welfare schemes like the Congress-led government’s rural jobs scheme to assets creation. The party promises focus on infrastructure such as 100 new cities, high-speed bullet trains and broadband Internet even in villages.
The promise to work toward a Ram temple at a disputed mosque site in Ayodhya is mentioned only on page 41, that too with a rider that it would be “within the constitutional framework.” The party has also said it will consult stakeholders for the removal of Article 370 of the Constitution granting special status to Jammu and Kashmir. It has also promised a uniform civil code to reflect current realities.
The manifesto was seen to reflect the loosening grip of the BJP’s old guard backed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the party’s ideological mentor, which believes that the BJP should not neglect its core constituency, according to NDTV.