While senior leaders didn’t seem perturbed by the delay, workers at the grassroots say this makes their work much more difficult as they will not get time to convey the party’s promises to the voters
The Shiv Sena and the BJP may have parted ways, but it seems they are sticking to nearly the same timelines. Both parties released their election manifestoes in low-key events yesterday, giving workers only three days to tell the voters about them.
Sena (left) and BJP leaders (below) with their respective manifestos yesterday. Pics/Rajesh Varadkar and Atul Kamble
Even during the Lok Sabha elections in April, the BJP had released its manifesto only after the first phase of elections had started. In Mumbai, however, polling was slated for April 24, giving workers 15 days to publicise the manifesto. This time, Monday is the last day of campaigning for the October 15 polls, leaving the workers with only three days.
While the BJP claims its manifesto was ready and could not be released because its senior leaders did not have time, the Sena said it has been talking about its vision on various occasions and hence a delayed manifesto isn’t a big issue.
Madhav Bhandari, chief spokesperson for Maharashtra BJP, said, “The manifesto was ready a long time ago, but we couldn’t release it because the leaders did not have time. Today (on Friday), I had to cancel three public meetings and leave my Pandharpur visit midway for the manifesto release.”
The Sena also released its manifesto without much fanfare at a small event in the presence of leaders like MLA Subhash Desai and MP Anil Desai. The 23-page manifesto has most of those points that Uddhav Thackeray has been talking about, including coastal roads, amalgamation of BMC and MMRDA, a garden at the racecourse, a Shivaji Museum and a Bal Thackeray memorial. Harshal Pradhan, Uddhav Thackeray’s PRO, was not available for comment.
The BJP released a 25-page black-and-white manifesto, which focused on topics like economic development, women’s security and a Make in Maharashtra scheme similar to Make in India. The manifesto did not, however, have any mention of the Vidarbha statehood issue. Both Sena and BJP spoke about abolishing the Local Body Tax.
Party workers from both Sena and BJP say while the leaders may not be concerned about the manifestoes being released late, those posted at the grassroots and given the task of connecting with voters have a tough task at hand. “Normally, we would have handed out copies of the manifesto to voters to educate them about what we intend to do.
Now, however, we are all busy with campaigning and party candidates have declared their vision for their respective constituencies. It will be very difficult to take the manifesto up now. In the last leg of campaigning, we don’t talk about issues that much anyway, and the focus is on organisational work, where we meet people and convince them to vote for our candidate,” said a leader who is handling the campaign for a BJP candidate in the suburbs.
A Sena leader said that manifestos may not be needed as much anymore because of the speeches being telecast live and being available on the internet, but having a document of the party’s vision and promises always helps. “People have been listening to our leaders’ speeches, where they make it a point to inform voters about their plans for the city and state.
But, it would have been better if we would have got time to get the manifesto to the voters, because leaders draw only an outline in their speeches. The voters need to be told the details, and getting the manifesto early helps us in doing that,” he said.