The BJP manifesto, bearing the unmistakeable imprimatur of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has an undertone of quiet confidence running through it. It focuses more on economy and governance issues than ideologically contentious ones, which is very welcome. The assurance is of ‘hitting the road up and running’ on winning a third term. The manifesto does not unveil extravagant plans that could compromise the fisc, perhaps because it feels they are not electorally necessary.

The party seems to be sure that the existing schemes with respect to infrastructure and welfare are working well, and that there is no need to tamper with them. There is no hint of a new package. The development formula of big ticket physical infrastructure, creation of entrepreneurs over job seekers, and efficient delivery of welfare and credit to weaker sections through digital infrastructure is here to stay. On physical and digital infrastructure, the decadal claims of the manifesto are not out of place. There has been a major improvement in road and rail networks, with 28 km of national highways and 14.5 km of rail networks being constructed every day. The growth of solar power, as well as improvement in last mile electricity reach are undisputed achievements. The creation of 50 crore Jan Dhan accounts to which ₹34-lakh crore have been transferred marks a huge shift in income transfers to the poor. Digital technology plays a role in improving market outreach of rural businesses and the urban self-employed. The government has reaped electoral dividends from efficient delivery of foodgrains and cash to the poor.

But in the party’s outreach to the youth and the middle classes, the manifesto is less eloquent. The policies for skilling and self-employment seem geared more to serve the needs of the rural and urban poor, while the traditional job seekers in the middle class have not been promised any new deal, save comfortable train and road travel, even as they suffer rising costs of goods and services. It is notable that the BJP manifesto — indeed as that of the Congress — does not have much to say on basic health and education. The BJP manifesto highlights its achievements in Ayushman Bharat insurance coverage besides having created IITs and medical colleges, but there is no perspective on offer. It is disappointing that major political parties have failed to reassess issues of access and quality in health and education, despite upheavals such as Covid that derailed these sectors.

As for surprises, ‘uniform civil code’ and ‘one nation one election’ have virtually been mentioned as agenda items, with none of the argumentation that one might have expected. If the manifesto has stuck to the straight and narrow, it is because the government has already rolled out its elaborate sector plans and its vision for 2047. The Prime Minister’s ‘guarantee’ to actualise this vision was all that was left to be said.