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Read between the lines: How BJP and Congress chose their manifesto words differently

Campaigning for the first phase of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections is over. With six more phases to go, politicking is only expected to pick pace.

How far the BJP and Congress stick to their vision documents remain to be seen, but India Today’s Data Intelligence Unit (DIU) has pieced together a comparison of the manifestos of both national parties.

And we found glaring differences in the manner both parties approach issues of national importance.

Difference in thrust

The major difference observed in the manifestos of both parties was in thrust. While the Congress mentioned the word ‘promises’ 207 times, the BJP’s focus was on ‘development’ which found 75 mentions.

Interestingly, the top priorities in BJP’s manifesto find low mentions in the Congress document and vice versa. The BJP manifesto mentioned promises’ hardly six times; the Congress document mentions development’ only 20 times.

Another big difference was in the mention of leaders’ names. While the Congress manifesto mentions ‘Rahul Gandhi’ only five times, the BJP’s Sankalp Patra had 22 mentions of ‘Narendra Modi’.

Difference in approach


Both Congress and BJP laid emphasis on farmers in their vision documents; however, the ruling party beat the opposition in word count.

The Congress, which came up with the promise of a separate budget for farmers, mentioned the word 28 times in their manifesto. The BJP, which focused on doubling farmers’ incomes by 2022, mentioned the word 33 times.

Words ‘rural’ and ‘agriculture’ got 12 mentions each in the BJP manifesto. In the Congress manifesto, ‘rural’ got 10 mentions, while agriculture had 16.


Congress seems to have stressed on the issue of poverty more than BJP.

The party has come up with the promise of NYAY through which it wishes to alleviate poverty in the country. The word ‘poverty’ finds 15 mentions, ‘poor’ six and ‘NYAY’ six mentions in the Congress document.

The BJP, however, seems to have focused less on poverty-related words. In its Sankalp Patra, the BJP said it will bring down poverty to single digit number.

However, it mentioned the word poverty’ only two times. The word ‘poor’ received 14 mentions.


The NSSO report on unemployment, leaked at the beginning of the year, exposed a crisis in the job scenario. The NDA government tried its best to counter the statistics, while the Opposition turned it into one of its pertinent issues.

There was a huge difference between the stress laid on the word jobs’ by the two parties. The Congress mentioned ‘jobs’ 27 times in its manifesto, while the BJP made only two mentions. The word ’employment’ got 19 mentions in the Congress manifesto and 10 in the BJP’s Sankalp Patra.


Another stark difference between the two manifestos was in issues related to Kashmir.

The word ‘Kashmir’ finds six mentions in the BJP manifesto and nine in the Congress document. The BJP used the word ‘Kashmir’ in the context of abrogation of Article 370, on Article 35-A and bringing back Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley.

Congress claims it will not touch Article 370, given the unique circumstances of the state. They have also put up a nine-point explainer about their vision on the Valley.

The nine-point explainer includes a dialogue, reviewing AFSPA and deployment of forces, conducting free and fair assembly elections in the state and protecting Jammu and Kashmir migrants from any sort of harassment and discrimination in other parts of the country.


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