India’s opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), frontrunner to form the next government, faced criticism on Thursday for failing to release its manifesto just days before elections open.
Reports earlier this week claimed the Hindu nationalists’ programme would be unveiled today, but a party source has now revealed that it was now highly unlikely to be before Saturday, two days before the first voters cast their ballots.
Some political observers have attributed the delay to internal differences within the party, which is being led by prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, a hardliner from Gujarat.
Modi, the favorite to become the prime minister, is running on his credentials as the three-time chief minister of Gujarat where he has built a reputation as a hands-on leader and economic reformer.
“A party and leader which claims great administrative and managerial competence is unable to release its manifesto in time,” Priyanka Chaturvedi, spokeswoman for the ruling Congress party, tweeted today.
“Why is BJP unable to produce even a manifesto on time?” she added.
India’s mammoth nine-phase election starts on 7 April and concludes on 12 May, with final counting on 16 May.
“The main reason (for the delay) is that almost every senior leader who was made part of the manifesto drafting committee is fighting the election, and has been in his or her respective constituency, making it difficult to devote time to the document,” a BJP leader said on condition of anonymity today.
The ruling Congress party released its manifesto on 26 March, pledging to create millions of jobs and new social schemes if it is voted back into power for a third consecutive term.