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In the lead-up to the Lok Sabha elections of 2024, political parties are immersed in an intense battle for power and influence. The political landscape is charged with energy as parties engage in vigorous campaigns to sway voters and secure their support. Amidst this fervour, it’s crucial to understand the intricate dynamics that shape electoral outcomes. One such aspect is the relationship between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Congress.

BJP vs. Congress: One-sided contest

In the elections of 2009, the main competition was between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Congress in 173 constituencies. Congress won 54% of these seats while BJP secured 46%. However, in 2014, the scenario changed drastically. BJP emerged victorious in 88% of the direct contest seats, totaling to 189. This trend continued in 2019, with BJP claiming 92% of the 190 direct contest seats.

BJP vs. Congress: Vote share dynamics

Looking at the vote share, BJP’s trajectory saw a notable rise from 41% in 2009 to 50.9% in 2014 and 56.5% in 2019. On the other hand, Congress experienced a decline between 2009 and 2014 but saw a slight improvement in 2019, although this increase in votes didn’t translate into winning seats.


BJP vs. Non-Congress Parties: A two-way street

In 2009, there were 53 constituencies where BJP faced off against parties other than Congress. BJP won approximately two-thirds of these seats. This success rate increased to 79% in 2014. However, in 2019, BJP encountered challenges against these mostly regional parties. Regarding vote share, while BJP saw a consistent growth, non-Congress parties experienced a dip in 2014 but made significant gains in 2019, particularly in their respective strongholds.

BJP vs. Congress: The rise

While BJP’s dominance in direct contests with Congress has been evident, the party faced tougher competition from non-Congress parties, especially in 2019. Despite this, BJP’s steady rise in vote share and success in direct contests can largely be attributed to the changing political landscape, where Congress’ influence has waned, benefiting the saffron party.

Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Poll promises, guarantees and more

1. BJP’s Sankalp Patra vs Congress’ Nyay Patra
In their election manifestos for the 2024 elections, both the BJP and the Congress have outlined their key promises and priorities.
BJP’s Sankalp Patra Manifesto:
The BJP’s manifesto, titled “Modi Ki Guarantee,” emphasises the party’s commitment to the nation’s development through four pillars: women, youth, the underprivileged, and farmers.
Congress’ “Nyay Patra” Manifesto:
On the other hand, the Congress party’s manifesto, named “Nyay Patra” and inspired by Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodi Nyay Yatra, focuses on five pillars of justice, including justice for youth, women, farmers, workers, and equity.

2. Targeting Young Voters
Both parties have dedicated sections in their manifestos to address the concerns and aspirations of young voters, a significant demographic in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
BJP’s Promises to Young Voters:

  • Implementation of laws against paper leaks.
  • Continued efforts to fill government vacancies promptly.
  • Initiatives to foster a conducive environment for startups and entrepreneurship.
  • Focus on making India a global manufacturing hub to boost employment.
  • Expansion of credit programs like Mudra to support aspiring entrepreneurs, doubling the Mudra loan limit.

Congress’ Promises to Young Voters:

  • Implementation of a Yuva Nyay program to tackle unemployment.
  • Introduction of a new Right to Apprenticeship Act providing one-year apprenticeships for diploma holders and college graduates under 25.
  • Commitment to filling nearly 30 lakh vacancies in central government posts.
  • One-time relief for applicants unable to write qualifying public exams due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

3. Senior Citizens
Both parties have included schemes and initiatives in their manifestos to address the needs and concerns of senior citizens, particularly regarding health.
BJP’s Promises for Senior Citizens:

  • Expansion of the Ayushman Bharat Yojana to cover senior citizens above 70 years of age.
  • Collaboration with state governments to facilitate convenient facilities for senior citizens undertaking sacred pilgrimages.

Congress’ Promises for Senior Citizens:

  • Strict enforcement of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
  • Increase in pension contributions for senior citizens, widows, and persons with disabilities under the National Social Assistance Programme to Rs 1,000 per month.
  • Restoration of travel concessions in public transport for senior citizens.

4. Farmers in focus
Both parties have made promises to farmers, recognizing them as a crucial vote bank.
BJP’s Promises to Farmers

  • Strengthening of the PM Fasal Bima Yojana through technological interventions.
  • Continuation of increasing Minimum Support Prices (MSP) over time.

Congress’ Promises to Farmers:

  • Legal guarantee of MSP announced annually by the government, as recommended by the Swaminathan Commission.
  • Establishment of a Permanent Commission on Agricultural Finance to assess agricultural credit needs and loan forbearance.

5. Women Voters
Women voters hold significant sway in electoral outcomes, and both parties have tailored promises to address their concerns.
BJP’s Promises to Women:

  • Empowerment of 3 crore rural women to become ‘Lakhpati Didi.’
  • Expansion of health services focused on women’s health issues.
  • Systematic implementation of the Women’s Reservation Bill to ensure parliamentary and legislative representation for women.

Congress’ Promises to Women:

  • Launch of the Mahalakshmi scheme, providing Rs 1 lakh per year to every poor Indian family as unconditional cash transfer.
  • Reservation of 50% of central government jobs for women from 2025 onwards.
  • Doubling the number of working women hostels, with at least one Savitribai Phule Hostel in each district.

6. Health for All
Both parties have addressed healthcare in their manifestos, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
BJP’s Healthcare Promises:

  • Strengthening of AIIMS network for quality healthcare.
  • Expansion of PM-ABHIM for robust healthcare.
  • Expansion of Jan Aushadhi Kendra network for affordable medicines.
  • Ayushman coverage for transgender community.

Congress’ Healthcare Promises:

  • Adoption of the Rajasthan Model of cashless insurance up to Rs 25 lakhs for universal healthcare.
  • Assurance of free universal healthcare in public health centres, including examination, treatment, medicines, and rehabilitation.
  • Incremental increase in healthcare budget to achieve 4% of total expenditure by 2028-29.

7. Indian Economy
Both parties have outlined their visions for the Indian economy in their manifestos.
BJP’s Economic Promises:

  • Guarantee of India becoming the third-largest economic power.
  • Commitment to low inflation and economic growth.
  • Focus on increasing employment opportunities and supporting taxpayers.

Congress’ Economic Promises:

  • Target of doubling GDP in the next ten years.
  • Enactment of laws to protect the rights and enhance social security of gig workers and unorganised workers.
  • Support for free trade and rule-based international commerce.

8. High-Quality Education
Both parties have highlighted education as a priority in their manifestos.
BJP’s Education Promises:

  • Continued upgrading of existing institutions.
  • Adoption of a dynamic learning curriculum aligned with the National Education Policy.
  • Incorporation of industry-aligned curriculum and skill development in higher education.

Congress’ Education Promises:

  • Amendment of the Right to Education Act to make education from Class I to XII in public schools compulsory and free.
  • Revision and amendment of the National Education Policy in consultation with state governments.
  • Emphasis on STEM subjects in school and college syllabuses.

9. National Security
Both parties have addressed national security concerns in their manifestos.
BJP’s National Security Promises:

  • Establishment of military theatre commands for more efficient operations.
  • Acceleration of infrastructure development along India’s borders.
  • Equipping armed forces and central police forces with modern weapons and technology.

Congress’ National Security Promises:

  • Abolishment of the Agnipath Scheme.
  • Issuance of a comprehensive National Security Strategy.
  • Institutionalisation of the process for appointing the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) to ensure transparency and military consensus.
  • Implementation of One Rank One Pension (OROP) as per the UPA government’s order.

10. Environment
Both parties have outlined their commitments to environmental preservation.
BJP’s Environmental Promises:

  • Achievement and maintenance of designated ambient air quality standards under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).
  • Improvement of health and cleanliness of major rivers through phased initiatives.

Congress’ Environmental Promises:

  • Strengthening of the NCAP to tackle air pollution effectively.
  • Establishment of an independent Environment Protection and Climate Change Authority to enforce environmental standards and plans.

Inputs from TOI

  • Published On Apr 15, 2024 at 04:05 PM IST

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