A case of competing manifestos
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is making it a point to question the Congress's promise of NYAY at every rally and meeting he is attending and addressing nowadays in the run up to the general elections which have already begun (the first phase of it was over on April 11 and the remaining six phases are to be completed).
Though every party has a right to question what the other has promised or is promising, it is always expected of the critic to first know what one is talking about.
If it is the manifesto that one is criticising, then one should have read the manifesto in detail. Some promises are easier to understand and some others may demand some math knowledge.
It is here that Narendra Modi's questioning of NYAY scheme is a bit puzzling. Modi says NYAY is impractical and impossible to implement as its implementation only means Rs 3.6 lakh crore expenditure on the exchequer every year when the programme is fully out to cover five crore families in the country (poorest of the poor) and hence it will not be feasible and fiscally responsible.
But Narendra Modi should also answer to the question of the Congress as to how does he plan to invest Rs 25 lakh crore in the agri-rural sector and Rs 100 lakh crore in the infrastructure sector in five years.
This alone means, of the promises made by the BJP in its manifesto, Rs 25 lakh crore per annum expenditure. So what is practical and what is not? Will Modi explain how does any government - run by him prudently - which perceives that Rs 3.6 lakh crore expenditure annually is cumbersome and impractical, could spend Rs 25 lakh crore annually promised by his own party?
All manifestos make tall claims. Every politician would only say 'let us win the election first". The attitude is very clear from the very beginning.
The bigger the promise and more hype is created around it, it means its not going to seriously and honestly implemented. It is to be jettisoned either completely or to be pruned to benefit a limited section of people only. It is all publicity stunt as we all know.
Look at the Ayushman Bharat programme of the BJP announced ahead of the manifesto by the Prime Minister. This one is supposed to benefit 50 crore Indians in getting health insurance.
But, it has not been universally implemented. Thus far this scheme has only covered 10,59,693 beneficiaries who have been hospitalised and treated under the scheme till February 4, this year.
Similarly, the Centre's Citizenship Bill has only created a greater gulf between the North East and rest of India and i has become more potent in dividing people in the North East itself. Congress has not delivered NYAY of any kind in the past.
At least not much. Hence, people voted it out and brought in the BJP because Narendra Modi promised 'vikas' to all. He said jobs would be given to the unemployed and the elusive social justice would be delivered. Alas, those were not to be. Manifestos of cheating, these are!