India’s ruling party releases manifesto days before election

April 8, 2019
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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah listen to Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh during the release BJP's manifesto for the upcoming general elections in New Delhi, India, Monday, April 8, 2019. India's general elections are scheduled to be held in seven phases starting from April 11. Votes will be counted on May 23. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s ruling party released its election manifesto on Monday, three days before the start of a multi-phase general election in the world’s largest democracy.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party hoping to return to power for a second five-year term laid out their platform, emphasizing national security and economic development.

The BJP manifesto opened with an entreaty from Modi for voters’ “valued blessings.”

Modi said the document described the path for India to “move from being a developing country to a developed country” by 2047, asking, “If the 21st century is Asia’s century, should India lead it or not? Can we or can we not?”

Several other ministers in the BJP-led government spoke on Monday, including the finance minister, Arun Jaitley, who said that the government “wants to expedite the path of progress.”

Jaitley also cited an Indian airstrike against an alleged terrorist camp in Pakistan after a suicide bomber killed 40 Indian soldiers in disputed Kashmir in February as proof that the incumbents have taken a hard stand against terrorism.

The main opposition Congress party released its manifesto last week, blasting the Hindu nationalist BJP for working “to divide the nation.”

Since Modi and the BJP took power in 2014, there has been rising violence against India’s minority Muslim population.