November 11, 2019 / 1:38 PM / a month ago

Factbox: What does India's ruling Hindu nationalist party want to achieve?

(Reuters) - Six months after he was re-elected, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on course to have delivered on two big promises of his agenda: Stripping Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomy and moving towards building a temple on a disputed site.

A statue of Hindu monkey god Hanuman is seen next to security barricade as police officers take a break after Supreme Court's verdict on a disputed religious site, in Ayodhya, India, November 11, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

The moves have electrified his supporters but also sown unease among India’s roughly 200 million Muslims as well as many liberals.

Here is a factbox on what India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wants to achieve and how much progress it has made.

SOCIAL ISSUES

One of the BJP’s core tenets is that a Hindu temple should be built on the disputed site where a 16th-century mosque was razed by a Hindu mob in 1992.

In a victory for Modi, the Supreme Court on Saturday awarded Hindu groups control of the site, paving the way for the construction of a temple.

That followed the government’s decision in August to strip Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir of its special status, another long-held BJP aim that could dilute the region’s autonomy.

The BJP could next turn to creating a uniform civil code which would trump the independence of religious communities on certain matters.

The BJP’s manifesto states gender equality cannot be attained until India adopts a uniform civil code, but the party has provided few details on its plans.

Some Muslims are upset that Sharia, the Islamic legal and moral code, would likely be diluted under a uniform civil code.

The government is also keen on a Citizenship Amendment Bill, aimed at helping Hindus and members of other non-Muslim minority communities in neighbouring Muslim countries to move to India.

Critics have called the proposal blatantly anti-Muslim. The bill lapsed before it could be ratified earlier this year, but the BJP is expected to bring it to parliament again shortly.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

One of the BJP’s main promises is to turn India into a $5 trillion economy by 2025.

Modi has pushed a ‘Make in India’ campaign to create a global manufacturing hub. That plan has broadly failed to take off, however, as foreign manufacturers are deterred by labor laws, bureaucracy and issues with power and water supply.

The government has also promised new railways, airports and highways to improve India’s often insufficient infrastructure.

But economic growth has fallen to six-year lows and the government’s fiscal deficit is expected to widen beyond its 3.3% target, limiting New Delhi’s scope for action. Many economists and businessmen are disappointed that the government has not reformed India’s land and labor laws.

SECURITY

Modi’s government has vowed a ‘Zero Tolerance’ approach against extremism and the BJP’s manifesto says it has a policy of giving a “free hand” to security forces “combating terrorism.”

The government also wants to modernize security forces and become self-reliant in the procurement of defence equipment, although that remains a distant goal.

GOVERNANCE

Modi’s government has made targeting corruption a pillar of its governance plans. It enacted the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act in 2018 in order to track down wealthy Indians who have fled abroad to avoid investigation.

The BJP’s manifesto also says it is committed to holding simultaneous elections for parliament, state assemblies and local bodies in order to cut down on expenses and avoid excessive political distractions. There is no clear timeline for this, however.

FARMER WELFARE

The BJP has promised poor farmers, a key vote bank, that their incomes will double by 2022. It has provided them with 6,000 Indian rupees ($84.09) per year.

However, a drop in exports and limited resources to buy up agricultural produce have depressed crop prices. Erratic weather has also trimmed crop yields, contributing to gloom in the countryside.

Additional reporting by Devjyot Ghoshal in New Delhi; Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai and Promit Mukherjee; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Mike Collett-White

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