Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday unveiled the Bharatiya Janata Party's manifesto for the upcoming parliamentary polls, saying all trade movement with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan would be conducted through integrated check-posts.
“We will focus on creation of developmental and other necessary infrastructure in border areas to ensure that border security is strengthened, and we will enable increased participation of and benefits for border areas in the country's development and progress,” it said.
“We have completed building six integrated check-posts, with another under-construction, to facilitate easier trade and travel from neighbouring countries. We will further ease the movement of goods and people by constructing 14 more integrated check-posts by 2024.
“After completion of all the proposed integrated check-posts, all trade movement with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan will be conducted through the integrated check-posts,” the manifesto said.
The manifesto also promised that if the BJP was voted back to power, it would ensure passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill. The bill gives citizenship to religious minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The manifesto also vowed effective steps would be taken against illegal immigration into north eastern India by completing the National Register of Citizens, which is considered
controversial, and further enhancing border security.
On foreign policy, the poll document said a BJP government would take forward India's “Neighbourhood First” policy by “extensively leveraging forums such as BIMSTEC to accelerate regional coordination and economic co-operation with countries in our neighbourhood.
"Nationalism is our inspiration, empowerment of weaker sections is our vision and good governance is our mantra," Modi said, adding that the manifesto would take India on "one mission, one direction".
The manifesto released at the BJP headquarters here said the party was committed to enactment of the Citizenship Bill for the protection of members of religious minority communities from neighbouring countries who were escaping persecution.
It also said a BJP dispensation “will take effective steps to prevent illegal immigration into the north eastern states. There has been a huge change in the cultural and linguistic identity in some areas due to illegal immigration, resulting in adverse impact on local people's livelihood and employment.
“We will complete the NRC process in these areas on priority basis. In future, the NRC will be implemented in a phased manner in other parts of the country,” it added.
In an apparent reference to the resistance to the Bill among most of the non-Bangla speaking people of the seven north eastern states, the manifesto said the BJP would explain the issue to the people of the area.
The manifesto also promised to secure the country against "internal and external aggression", scrapping a law for special rights to residents of Jammu and Kashmir, and doubling farmers' income by next year.
The document also "reiterated" the promise of a Ram temple at Ayodhya and pledged to "explore all options".
It further promised a "zero tolerance" approach to terrorism.
The party further pledged a permanent house for every family living in temporary houses or without any home by 2022.
The manifesto addressed pension for small and medium farmers, and shopkeepers, days after the Congress manifesto vowed to bring about several welfare measures, including a grant of Rs 72,000 to the poorest 20 percent households in the country if voted to power.
The BJP said it would spend Rs 25 lakh crore in the next five years for rural and agricultural development. The manifesto promised to revise tax brackets to help the middle class, after the Modi government's last budget dished out major tax relief in February.