BJP’s Manifesto 2022 for UP reflects panic at prospect of losing power in bellwether state

The formal inclusion of the term ‘love jihad’ in BJP’s Manifesto 2022 for Uttar Pradesh reflects its panic at the prospect of losing power in the forthcoming Assembly election

Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly
Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly

Dr Gyan Pathak

Even though the manifestoes of political parties in India released before elections have lost value and integrity due to general experience of broken promises, these still offer a glimpse into a party’s thought process. The BJP’s manifesto of 2022 for Uttar Pradesh is no exception and one can clearly see how the party has degenerated in the state since 2017 under Yogi Adityanath and how stricken with panic it is at the prospect of losing reins of power there.

There is a long list of changes that can be seen simply by comparing the BJP’s manifesto of 2017 and of 2022. The promise of ‘Anti-Romeo squads’ in 2017 did not carry any bias – either of caste or of religion. Such a neutral term has now been changed to a communal term, ‘love jihad’ in the 2022 manifesto.

In 2017, it was part of ‘Sashakt Naari, Samaan Adhikar’ agenda that was again a neutral term. It was conceived that special teams would be set up at police stations to deal with incidents of eve-teasing.

A BJP leader at that time who wanted to give communal colour to the ‘anti-Romeo squads’ promise had to go beyond the manifesto 2017 to tell the people during rallies that the promise was actually intended against ‘love jihad’.

The BJP, which mainly depended on consolidation of Hindu votes even brought an anti-conversion law in 2020. The propaganda machinery remained active, claiming that Muslims were indulging in ‘love jihad’. An attempt was made to put the whole Hindu community in fear that their daughters and sisters are not safe because of the Muslims.

Thus, the inclusion of the term ‘love jihad’ in the BJP’s UP manifesto 2022 reflects the panic and frustration of the party which fears losing power in the coming assembly election.

A few questions can be asked – Is it not a right-wing conspiracy theory that only Muslim men seduce only Hindu women and that too only to convert them? Can we deny love between such couples? Why should only Muslim men be punished and only Hindu girls be protected? Can we ban love?

The degeneration of the BJP has accelerated after the death of Atal Behari Vajpayee in 2018. It may be considered a turning point. The influence of Atal Behari Vajpayee was still being felt in Uttar Pradesh politics in 2017 though he was inactive due to illness, and the leaders perhaps could not have courage to become so blatantly communal as we have been seeing now.

It should not be out of place to mention that even Narendra Modi did not blatantly communalize the political scenario in the country during the Lok Sabha elections 2014 and did not promise such freebies as now, but rather promised a life of dignity with development, though he did not deliver this even after a rule of almost eight years.

In reply to an allegation of not fulfilling the promises made in 2017, Amit Shah claimed, “I can say with pride that 92 per cent of our 212 pledges have been fulfilled...". It may be a ‘jumla’ as he earlier suggested about many promises made in 2014.

BJP’s promises in 2022 UP manifesto include free electricity for irrigation to farmers and jobs or self-employment opportunities to at least one member of each family, obviously to pacify the anger of a large number of unemployed youth and the farmers who had to fight for one year and lose 700 lives to get Modi’s three farm laws withdrawn while still waiting for some other promises fulfilled.

The manifesto also promises two free LPG cylinders – one each on Holi and Diwali, under the Ujjwala Yojana scheme. This promise clearly violates the principle of neutrality of the state on religious grounds. One should ask why only on Holi and Diwali, why not on other occasions such as Eid or Christmas, or other religion neural occasions such as Republic Day or Independence Day?

It is clearly a degeneration from the Indian ethos and constitutional values.

Degeneration can also be seen even in printing of photographs on the manifesto which reflects the autocracy which has befallen the party. It is all Modi and Yogi on the cover page, in place of earlier tradition of accommodating photographs of leaders representing various communities to show that the party cares for all.

Brahmins, OBCs, and Dalits have been already experiencing such neglect by the party leadership for the last five years of Yogi rule, and hence a large chunk of their voters has shifted to other political parties. This has clearly made the BJP desperate.

(IPA Service)

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