Where is the manifesto?

What a paradox! While the Congress leadership, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, are striving hard to build a vote base on the concrete foundation of their much touted welfare projects — food security and land acquisition bills — their party satraps in the poll bound states have no time to pen the party manifesto, though a month odd is left for the polling day.

The scene is no different in the Bhartiya Janata Party whose prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is pushing his development plan across the country, keeping aside the Hindutva agenda, including the Rama temple issue.

It appears manifestoes have lost their relevance in today’s politics where the poll-time promises are revived only five years later at the time of elections. Thus it’s a perfunctory election-time exercise which rarely sustains the interest of both the party and the public. Manifestoes are released amidst much fanfare, only thrown in the dustbin later.

Remember the 2012 assembly election in Uttar Pradesh where the Congress leadership had created hype by releasing the manifesto from 10 locations at the same time by different bunch of leaders? Thereafter, they had not only deviated from the promises they had made on quota for the minorities, but had never referred to it again even in their election speeches.

One leader whom I saw taking the manifesto to the public was Akhilesh Yadav, who is now the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. His party not only distributed the party manifesto before his arrival on the rally ground, Akhilesh himself made it a point to hand it over to the people who surrounded him for a hand shake.

Even after he had become chief minister, he diligently followed the manifesto and the government’s emphasis compelled the bureaucracy to refer to it as their bible from time to time.

But then Muzaffarnagar happened and not only the manifestoes disappeared from the same tables but the government also got derailed from the agenda it had set out for.

Is it not time to tell politicians to make only two promises — social security and development — instead of tens and hundreds which neither they remember nor the public.

The public is still struggling for ‘roti, kapda, makaan’ even five decades after Indira Gandhi had raised it. What an irony! Should we still have faith in their empty promises?

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