BJP's manifesto committee to be headed by Rajnath Singh; Anil Antony on panel

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at the Parliament House complex. File photo: PTI.

New Delhi: The BJP on Saturday announced a 27-member committee, which included several Union ministers and chief ministers, headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to prepare its manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be its convener and Union Minister Piyush Goyal co-convener. Several other Union ministers, the chief ministers of states such as Gujarat, Assam and Madhya Pradesh, and seasoned hands like Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Vasundhara Raje are among the members of the committee.

Rajnath Singh, a former party president, was the head of the BJP's manifesto committee for the 2019 polls as well. Many members have been repeated in the current panel as well.

Union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan, Ashwini Vaishnaw, Bhupender Yadav, Kiren Rijiju, Arjun Munda, Arjun Ram Meghwal, Smriti Irani and Rajeev Chandrasekhar are among its members.

Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Chhattisgarh's Vishnu Deo Sai and Madhya Pradesh's Mohan Yadav are also on the committee.

However, not all chief ministers, including Yogi Adityanath of Uttar Pradesh, are its members, with party sources saying that senior leaders of the party who are not on the committee may be made part of other organisational exercises related to the elections.

Bihar leaders Sushil Kumar Modi and Ravi Shankar Prasad, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, former Union minister Jual Oram, party's organisational leaders like Vinod Tawde, Radha Mohan Das Agrawal, Manjinder Singh Sirsa, Tariq Mansoor and Anil Antony have been included in the committee too.

Antony and Mansoor are among the party's Christian and Muslim faces respectively. Former Haryana BJP president O P Dhankar is also a member.

The party is already in the process of seeking suggestions from different groups and its national president J P Nadda had last month flagged off "Viksit Bharat Modi ki Guarantee" video vans, which are meant to travel across the country to collect people's inputs on the contents of its manifesto.

That this is the first time in many decades that some of the core ideological promises of the BJP may not find mention in its election manifesto has added to the general curiosity about what will be the highlights of the ruling party's poll pledges this time.

With Article 370 repealed by the government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in its second term and the Ram temple construction in full swing and already open to devotees, two of the party's core promises for several polls stand fulfilled.

Its governments in some states are also working to implement the Uniform Civil Code, another of its foundational pledges. With PM Modi often asserting that his third term will be marked by big decisions, the buzz around its manifesto has been gaining traction. The Lok Sabha polls are scheduled to be held between April 19 and June 1.

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