The Indian National Congress (INC) released its election manifesto on 2nd of April 2019 with much fanfare. The Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) has followed with its own ‘Sankalp Patra’ today, 8th April 2019.
With the first phase of voting for the 2019 general elections to the Lok Sabha just days away, it is time to take a look at what the two key political parties of India promise to do for India’s railway sector.
The Indian National Congress Manifesto
The Congress briefly mentions the railways in its election manifesto. It first talks about the railways on Page 8 of its manifesto, under Section 03 Infrastructure.
The Congress’ manifesto recognises the lacking infrastructure in the country. It also states that there are significant issues dogging design and execution of infrastructure in the country. The manifesto affirms that the INC considers railways as “vital infrastructure” and “crucial public goods.”
In subsection 02 and 03, the Congress promises to “massively modernise all outdated railway infrastructure”, and that future projects will use international standards for design and quality.
The manifesto also states the intent of the party to use “private capital and capacity” for rail projects through the “tried and tested” Public Private Partnership model.
Going further, on Page 10 of the document, the party states the role of government expenditure in leading the creation and provision of public goods. INC promises adequate expenditure on various sectors, including railways.
The manifesto mentions railways one final time, in connection with the development of the North Eastern States on Page 22, promising substantially increased outlays for infrastructure development in the region.
The Bharatiya Janata Party ‘Sankalp Patra’ on Railways
The BJP also makes several mentions of railways in its Sankalp Patra. The opening note from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Page 3 says that the “pace of construction of roads and railway lines has doubled.”
On Page 9 of the document, a brief mention is made by the makers of the document of plans to modernize about 400 railway stations and “cover 50 cities with metro networks.”
The BJP’s manifesto also has its own separate section on Infrastructure.
The party starts off with Urban Mobility on Page 20, stating they will “incentivize cities” to integrate local public transport systems, including local trains.
The section has a dedicated subsection devoted to railways. On Page 21, the party promises to “continue the pace of work” and “encourage private participation in the development of railway amenities and infrastructure and provision of services.”
The section goes further and makes specific promises to “ensure conversion of all viable rail tracks to broad gauge by 2022”, and says that the BJP will “make all efforts to ensure electrification of all railway tracks by 2022.”
The BJP also makes clear the intent of the party to expand the high-speed train network, and run trains like the Vande Bharat Express across the Indian Railways network.
On the same page, the party also commits to complete the long delayed Dedicated Freight Corridor by the year 2022. Also promised is a massive programme of modernisation of railway stations in the country.
Finally, the BJP also uses the chance to promise to ‘equip all main railway stations with Wi-Fi facility by 2022.
Finally, the Sankalp Patra also states the party’s intent to improve accessibility for the differently-abled of the country.
At the end of the document, the BJP’s manifesto helpfully provides a quick summary of their pitch for railway users:
Comparing promises made by the two parties, Congress makes all the right noises but leaves the reader with vague promises on what they plan to achieve.
The BJP tries to one-up the Congress with a more clear set of targets that they want to achieve. For some reason though, all of them seem to have a deadline of 2022.
Leave comments on what you think of the two manifestos. Keep the comments restricted to only infrastructure and ideally to railways. Let us know if you find more specific railway related promises in manifestos of any other political party.