NEW DELHI: Congress party released its manifesto for the coming polls early this week. BJP is yet to release its list of promises (some reports say, it may do so this Sunday). That’s not surprising because the saffron party has released its manifesto ‘after’ Congress in the last three Lok Sabha polls too.

Congress released its manifesto on: March 22
BJP released it on: April 8
Elections were first held on: April 20
Congress: March 24
BJP: April 3
Elections: April 16
Congress: March 26
BJP: April 7
Elections: April 7
Congress: April 2
BJP: Likely on April 7
Elections: April 11
Closer to polls the better? In 2014, the BJP had released its manifesto only on the first day of the nine-phased Lok Sabha poll. During the Gujarat Assembly elections in 2017, it released it just a day before the first phase of polling.
That’s too late now: After the 2014 controversy, Congress party had complained to the Election Commission that the move could influence voters. So, ahead of these elections, the EC has barred political parties from releasing election manifestos in the last 48 hours before polling. Earlier, there was no limit on the timing of manifesto release though EC regulations forbid any sort of election-related canvassing 48 hours prior to polling and public display of election matter is banned under Section 126(1)(b) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
Does it help? It’s not clear whether releasing a manifesto at the fag end of the campaign has helped BJP or not but it does signal that the party didn’t bank on its ‘Sankalp Patra’ influencing voters much in the past. However, this year, the days after the release of Congress manifesto would definitely give the 20-member BJP manifesto committee a chance to counter the promises made by the Congress if it wants to. After all, the Congress promises that have created the most buzz are around the topics that matter to BJP too (farmers, jobs, internal security, national security etc)