BJP-Sena focuses on state issues in manifesto for Lok Sabha elections

The document, released after much debate within the alliance, promises to speed up infrastructural projects in the state, but steers clear of contentious issues like reservations for the Maratha community

The hotly anticipated manifesto of the grand alliance led by BJP and Shiv Sena is finally ready, but only in time for the second and third phases of polling in the country.

The cover of the manifesto
The cover of the manifesto

The manifesto, drafted at the behest of Shiv Sena, speaks about pending or delayed infrastructure projects specifically in Mumbai and Maharashtra, and promises to complete them at the earliest. Significantly, a large majority of issues discussed in the manifesto deal with the state, even though the document has been drafted for elections to the Centre.

State or centre?
The manifesto boldly promises higher returns from the Rs 3 lakh crore revenue collected by the Centre from the metropolis. It says that the NDA government, if voted to power, will speed up projects like the widening of the Mumbai-Goa highway, MUTP-II, modernisation of Andheri and Borivli stations and pending railway projects. It also promises to strengthen coastal security to protect the state’s 720-km long seacoast.

To make these dreams a reality, the manifesto says, the alliance will seek maximum share of the revenue collected by the central government agencies from the city. The centre collects approximately R3 lakh crore each year from the metropolis, it says. Even though the issue is contentious within the BJP itself, the manifesto promises a toll-free state.

The manifesto however overlooks the fact that the matter of toll collection is a state-related issue for Shiv Sena, and that the central government backs collection of toll. The manifesto promises to remove LBT, which was introduced by the state government as an alternative to octroi last year.

The manifesto, however, refrains from promising the much-awaited reservations for the Maratha community, in what seems like a move intended to evade a backlash of communities from OBC categories. The grand alliance will remain solidly behind all communities, including the Marathas, it says.

Even through the food security scheme lies in the Centre’s domain, the state manifesto promises that the NDA will strengthen its food distribution network on priority basis. It also says prices of essential commodities will be frozen for five years, as it had been between 1995 and 1999, when Maharashtra was under Sena-BJP rule.

It also touches on issues specific to Mumbai, such as efforts to rename Bombay High Court as Mumbai High Court. The alliance will ask the Centre to approve the increased cost of the Brimstowad project, it says. The grand alliance promises to get all the required approvals speedily for the Chhatrapati Shivaji Memorial and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Memorial proposed at Indu Mills compound.

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