The Bharatiya Janata Party released its manifesto for Haryana Assembly elections on Sunday, October 13. The incumbent party has released a long list of promises from education, women empowerment, and healthcare. However, even a cursory look at the manifesto reveals the vague promises made by the party.
Talking to NewsClick, Inderjit Singh of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) said, “Their manifesto is full of vague and hollow promises. There are no concrete plans mentioned in it; they have just said we will do this, we will do that, but nowhere have they mentioned how, because they do not know it themselves.”
He added, "Even though BJP has been in power in the state for the last five years, nowhere in the manifesto have they mentioned any developments that have been made in those years. They have made promises for the next five years, yes, but what about the promises they have failed to keep in the last five years?"
BJP has promised to build one model school in every block, and modernise some schools. However, there are no concrete explanations of how this will happen.
Singh said, "What good will one model school in a block do, when all the other schools lack infrastructure and manpower? They have also claimed that they will reduce the school drop-out rate by developing a network of Siksha Doots. This scheme has failed in every state where it was tried. Why do they think it will be successful here?"
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Talking to NewsClick, Jagmati Sangwan of All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) said, "They have stopped the science stream in all schools in the villages. They do not care about the children who want to study science, even though they are talking about developing and modernising the schools."
Singh added, "They have also made the foolish promise of starting career counselling for students in middle school. How will this help the students? Haryana has the highest unemployment rate in the country. Let's say that they manage to keep this promise, but what jobs would these children get after the career counselling?"
BJP listed several points in the section of their manifesto talking about development of women. The section is titled "Women-centric Development: Our Primary Focus".
Their first promise is of eradicating anaemia among women and children. However, according to The Lancet study on malnutrition in India published in September 2019, the prevalence of anaemia among women and children in Haryana is 65% and 74%, respectively. Haryana had the highest prevalence of anaemia in children in the country, and this rate has not decreased in the last five years of BJP government in the state.
Their next promise is that they will make education free for all women, from kindergarten to post graduation. Sangwan told NewsClick, "This means only a waiver of tuition fees, which in the government institutions is only Rs 15-20. The rest of the fees will have to be paid by the students. They are trying to misguide the people."
Sangwan also said that the Haryana government does not focus on women's safety, even though the state has the highest occurrence of incidents of violence against women according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data. She added, "Even if they, by chance, say something about reducing the number of incidents of violence against women, the steps are never taken to implement what they say. It's almost as if the BJP government is completely apathetic towards the problems faced by women in the state."
BJP has promised to build 2,000 new wellness centres in the state. Singh said that this promise is just as hollow as other ones made in the manifesto. He said, "As per WHO (World Health Organisation) norms, there is a requirement of 28,000 doctors in the state. Do you know how many are in position? 2,100. What is the point of building new wellness centres, while the ones that are already in place are not even functioning?"
The party has also promised to expand and create new departments in the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS), Rohtak, the hospital on which most of the people in the state are dependent on. However, according to the locals, the hospital is in a pathetic state, barely functioning with poor infrastructure and lack of manpower. The waiting periods for MRIs and ultrasounds, two very important diagnostic tests, are anywhere between six months to one year, forcing the people to turn to private hospitals for their treatments.
These are not the only problems with the manifesto. The party talks about ensuring that every house gets clean drinking water, while numerous villages do not get any water at all during the summer months. There are promises of making roads from all villages to the Hisar airport. However, the irony is that only one aircraft has departed from Hisar airport until now, only on the day when it was inaugurated. The manifesto does not talk about regularisation of contractual workers, while it does indirectly talk about making outsourcing of workers easier.
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Overall, there is not much difference between this manifesto, and the one released by BJP before the Assembly elections in the state in 2014. The 2014 manifesto was full of vague promises that were not fulfilled in the five years of BJP government in the state, and the promises made this time are not likely to be fulfilled either, even if the party is re-elected.