Do Political Manifestos really help parties to win Elections?

May 6, 2023

As Karnataka’s assembly elections are barely a week away, it is time to take a hard look on some of the important issues thrown up by the two major contenders for power – the ruling BJP and opposition Congress.

True, there are three key political players including JD(S), which is often touted as the ‘king-maker’ in the event of a fractured mandate, as the party has played footsie with both the national parties without really bothering about the ideology or principles. But then, except Congress, the other two parties have never crossed the simple majority mark of 113 in the 224 member assembly. The JD(S) has always been a distant third despite all the talk about its ‘Mission 113’.

Therefore, let us concentrate on the manifestos of the two national parties. The BJP, in its manifesto, has among other things promised to bring the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) and introduce the contentious National Register of Citizens (NRC) besides establishing Karnataka State Wing against Religious Fundamentalism and Terror (K-SWIFT). Though the three proposals are seen as part of BJP’s Hindutva and anti-minority or rather anti-Muslim agenda, they have not generated any heat, as of now anyway.

The Congress, on the other hand, has stirred the hornet’s nest by equating the banned outfit Popular Front of India (PFI) with Sangh Parivar’s Bajrang Dal (BD) and coming out with a resolve to ban organisations that ‘’promote hatred and enmity among majority and minority communities’’ such as PFI and BD. The party has also promised to scrap the National Education Policy (NEP), which ironically was initiated by the Congress-led UPA regime.

Freebies or Revdi?

Of course, the two parties have come up with several freebies, including daily supply of half a litre Nandini Milk and three free LPG cylinders a month plus 5 kgs of millets to each BPL family, and other schemes by BJP.

The Congress sought to pre-empt its rivals by announcing Guarantees with attractive names: Gruha Jyoti for 200 units of free power a month to all domestic users, Gruha Lakshmi of Rs 2000 each per month to each women head of BPL family, Yuva Nidhi offering Rs 3000 each per month to unemployed graduates and Rs 1,500 to unemployed diploma holders, Shakti offering free travel to women in all State-owned transport buses plus Anna Bhagya for 10 kgs of rice to each BPL family, while manifesto has come up with other sops as well.

However, the Congress Guarantees have really taken the wind out of BJP’s sails with no less than Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and others attacking it as ‘’irresponsible’’ while Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and other leaders have dubbed it as ‘’bogus guarantees.’’ KPCC Chief D K Shivakumar, Congress leader Siddaramaiah as well as Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have said the Congress government will take a decision on implementing the guarantees at the first cabinet meeting after election.

Coming back to BJP vs Congress manifestos, one wonders whether BJP’s promises on UCC, NRC and K-SWIFT will make much of a difference to the perception of voters. By the same token, notwithstanding Modi and Bommai as well as other BJP leaders going all out to denounce the Congress equating of PFI with BD and the promise to ban such organisations, and terming BD as the real devotees of the monkey god, Anjaneya or Hanumantha Swamy and Modi ending his election speeches with Jai Bajrang Bali to indicate that Anjaneya is the real servant of Sri Ram, it is doubtful whether the rhetoric will change the outcome.

Some political commentators and those leaning towards BJP and Sangh Parivar contend that the Congress move to ban Bajrang Dal might hurt its chances and, therefore, help BJP. Is that true?

Given the political awareness of Indian voters, it is obvious that voters, by and large, have already made up their mind and are unlikely to be greatly influenced by what is said in the manifesto. At best, it might make a marginal difference in some constituencies as in the present climate of polarisation, based on the religious or caste identities of the people. Besides, there is hardly any point in convincing the already convinced to vote for or against any party.

More importantly, one really wonders whether the political manifestoes or promises made during the election campaign make any impact. It may not be too far off the mark if one were to say that majority of voters – who decide the fate of the candidates in the fray – hardly read the manifestos or, may not have access to them. What the people read is obviously what is reported in the media or seen and heard by the viewers in TV debates or such other talk-shows. In such a case, one can hardly expect the voters to make an informed decision, especially when they do not know what is written in fine print.

Garibi Hatao, Rs 15 lakh to NYAY

However, the people certainly remember catchy slogans like Indira Gandhi’s `Garibi Hatao, Desh Bachao,’ in the 1971 elections after the Congress split. But do people really know what the Congress manifesto for 1971 polls contained? Also, since 2004 almost all parties have been promising to bring 33% women’s reservation in all elected bodies even though women are roughly half the total population and none of the parties are really concerned over the broken promises.

Similarly, in the run-up to the 2014 general election that catapulted Gujarat Chief Minister Modi on the national scene, the slogan of unearthing all the black money and ill-gotten wealth stashed abroad and depositing Rs 15 lakh into the bank into each person’s bank accounts certainly caught the attention of the masses as also the earlier Mandal-Mandir chaos and the Ram Mandir issues that helped the rise of BJP.

But did anybody get Rs 15 lakh in their bank account, nine years down the line since 2014? Did the failure to keep the promise, which Amit Shah later described as ‘Jumla,’ affect Modi’s popularity? BJP had also promised to create 2 crore jobs annually to solve the mounting unemployment problem in the country. Has it been fulfilled and unemployment problem solved or has it gone the way of Garibi Hatao? In fact, BJP under Modi rule gained improved its performance in the 2019 polls.

Further, if manifestos and the announcement of freebies, ridiculed by Modi as ‘Revdi,’ were to really influence the voters, why did the Congress fare miserably in 2019 when the party promised its most ambitious Nyuntam Aay Yojana (Nyay) under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership promising to pay Rs 72,000 per year in cash to 20% poorest of the families in the country?

People often vote on the basis of issues that really matter to their lives or sometimes on emotional issues and they throw out governments on the basis of their performance, which again is perceived mostly through media messaging.

Interestingly, in the 2018 assembly polls, which resulted in a fractured mandate, the BJP had announced a slew of promises including waiver of farm loans and many other things, most of which remained unimplemented when it came to power through the backdoor through its infamous ‘Operation Kamala’ in 2019 under previous Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa or by Bommai. The Congress, particularly former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has been constantly taunting BJP that it did not implement over 90% of the poll promises unlike his Congress regime in 2013 when the 158 out of 165 poll promises were fulfilled. Who will vouch for these claims?

In an ideal situation, manifestos must be held sacrosanct and should help the parties to win public support. After all, democracy is an unwritten social contract between the elected and the ordinary citizens, who vote for them. As long as election manifestos are not treated as legally binding documents, they will be happily forgotten and broken promises will not really bother the powers-that-be.

The big question is: Will it happen and political parties made accountable to deliver on their promises?




By Gabriel Vaz
To submit your article / poem / short story to Daijiworld, please email it to mentioning 'Article/poem submission for daijiworld' in the subject line. Please note the following:

  • The article / poem / short story should be original and previously unpublished in other websites except in the personal blog of the author. We will cross-check the originality of the article, and if found to be copied from another source in whole or in parts without appropriate acknowledgment, the submission will be rejected.
  • The author of the poem / article / short story should include a brief self-introduction limited to 500 characters and his/her recent picture (optional). Pictures relevant to the article may also be sent (optional), provided they are not bound by copyright. Travelogues should be sent along with relevant pictures not sourced from the Internet. Travelogues without relevant pictures will be rejected.
  • In case of a short story / article, the write-up should be at least one-and-a-half pages in word document in Times New Roman font 12 (or, about 700-800 words). Contributors are requested to keep their write-ups limited to a maximum of four pages. Longer write-ups may be sent in parts to publish in installments. Each installment should be sent within a week of the previous installment. A single poem sent for publication should be at least 3/4th of a page in length. Multiple short poems may be submitted for single publication.
  • All submissions should be in Microsoft Word format or text file. Pictures should not be larger than 1000 pixels in width, and of good resolution. Pictures should be attached separately in the mail and may be numbered if the author wants them to be placed in order.
  • Submission of the article / poem / short story does not automatically entail that it would be published. Daijiworld editors will examine each submission and decide on its acceptance/rejection purely based on merit.
  • Daijiworld reserves the right to edit the submission if necessary for grammar and spelling, without compromising on the author's tone and message.
  • Daijiworld reserves the right to reject submissions without prior notice. Mails/calls on the status of the submission will not be entertained. Contributors are requested to be patient.
  • The article / poem / short story should not be targeted directly or indirectly at any individual/group/community. Daijiworld will not assume responsibility for factual errors in the submission.
  • Once accepted, the article / poem / short story will be published as and when we have space. Publication may take up to four weeks from the date of submission of the write-up, depending on the number of submissions we receive. No author will be published twice in succession or twice within a fortnight.
  • Time-bound articles (example, on Mother's Day) should be sent at least a week in advance. Please specify the occasion as well as the date on which you would like it published while sending the write-up.

Comment on this article

  • Edmond G Noronha, Kirem - Mangalore

    Thu, May 11 2023

    Gabriel has clearly and brilliantly highlighted the factuals. Waiting to read your next article. Still awaiting the SMS from my bank on Rs15 lakhs.

  • Stan Ageira, Dubai/Mulki

    Wed, May 10 2023

    Thanks Gabriel. Fitting and aptly written article. Its thought provoking. Politicians do make plenty of false promises and easily get away with it. Is it possible to have an audit by an independent body? Even if such body exists, would they work without the control of the ruling government? Politicians have no moral and ethical values. Promises are made to be broken. Democracy is not working. Cleaning up needs a revolution.

  • Rita, Germany

    Mon, May 08 2023

    Am sure whatever and whichever the Party promises ,it will never come to stand .Modi promised lacs if his Party come up that made people go mad .Everyone gets 15lacs?Not a joke for poor ones.And when he said RAM MANDIR ,and Hindutwa ,was no halt.They cow slaughter was objected ,rowdism is increased ,Jihad is making noise.Mostly muslim people are centre of hatred at present ,christians too.BJP is buying congress MLAs ,all are behind money ,hardly anyone is for Nations betterment,love.They have collected assets worth crores ,still hungry for more crores.40%is not enough.Am really looking forward who will serve India with full heart and mind without looking out for money and honour.

  • Vinod Kumar, Mangalore

    Mon, May 08 2023

    BJP’s freebies and guarantees are only for those who support them and safe guard their interests irrespective of minority and majority with communal flavour which is favouring only the party and no focus on people’s day today challenges while congress’s manifestos and guarantees are for all citizens without communal touch which benefits the country resolving much of people’s life challenges especially the poor.

  • Bengalurian, Bengaluru

    Mon, May 08 2023

    Indeed, who will monitor the implementation of all these electoral manifestos and election eve promises that are rarely fulfilled? There must be an independent and statutory body which should be mandated to publish its findings every year so that neither the people nor the political leaders forget!!!

Leave a Comment

Title: Do Political Manifestos really help parties to win Elections?

You have 2000 characters left.


Please write your correct name and email address. Kindly do not post any personal, abusive, defamatory, infringing, obscene, indecent, discriminatory or unlawful or similar comments. will not be responsible for any defamatory message posted under this article.

Please note that sending false messages to insult, defame, intimidate, mislead or deceive people or to intentionally cause public disorder is punishable under law. It is obligatory on Daijiworld to provide the IP address and other details of senders of such comments, to the authority concerned upon request.

Hence, sending offensive comments using daijiworld will be purely at your own risk, and in no way will be held responsible.