From China to Maldives — BJP Vs Congress manifesto on foreign policy: Explained


While the BJP hopes to conduct policies to further India’s ‘ interests “with the spirit of Vishwa Bandhu”, the Congress promised to “pay greater attention to our immediate neighbours”. Their manifestos addressed issues ranging from China border dispute to “engagement with Pakistan” to end cross-border terrorism. 

Meanwhile, the BJP, throughout its manifesto, mentioned India as “Bharat” at most of the places.

Here’s what the BJP’s and the Congress’s manifesto says about the party’s foreign policy:

1. China

What’s the problem to be addressed: According to reports, China has significantly expanded its engagements in the Indian Ocean region over the past three decades. This has eventually raised fears among the US and Indian strategists that China’s growing naval presence, together with its use of so-called “debt-trap diplomacy,” might provide it with meaningful military advantages far from its shores, the research by think tank Brookings Institution said.

BJP promises: The party promised to accelerate the development of robust infrastructure along the Indo-China border. It will also ensure “freedom of navigation and maritime security in the Indian Ocean”.

“We will expand Bharat’s defence footprint across strategic locations and partner with friendly countries to protect Bharat’s and the Indian Ocean Region’s security interests.

Congress promises: The Congress’ manifesto makes no mention of the “Indian Ocean Region’s security”, it, however, promises to work to restore the status quo ante on India’s borders with China.

The party also promised that it would ensure that areas, where both armies patrolled in the past, are “again accessible to our soldiers”. “We will take the necessary steps to adjust our policy towards China until this is achieved,” it added.

2. Pakistan and cross-border terrorism

What’s the problem to be addressed: Indian has accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorists and supporting cross-border terrorism.

BJP promises: The party aims to accelerate the development of robust infrastructure along the Indo-Pakistan borders too. On combatting terrorism, it said, “We will continue our efforts to create a consensus among all members of the United Nations on the

Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism and other such efforts to combat terrorism.”

“We will build upon the success of the ‘No Money for Terror’ conference to develop better coordination on

countering terrorism financing,” the BJP’s manifesto added.

Congress promises: The manifesto mentioned that “engagement with Pakistan depends fundamentally on its willingness and ability to end cross-border terrorism”.

“Congress is implacably opposed to terrorism anywhere in the world. We will work with other countries to eliminate terrorist groups, terrorist acts and cross-border terrorism,” the party’s manifesto added.

3. Maldives and tourism

What’s the problem to be addressed: The diplomatic tensions between the Maldives and India escalated after Prime Minister Narendra Modi promoted Lakshwadeep as a top tourist destination. Later, Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu requested India to withdraw its troops stationed in the island nation. This led to a row between the two countries, further resulting in a decline in the number of Indian tourists to the Maldives.

BJP promises: The party’s manifesto makes no mention of the row with the Maldives. It, however, aims to tourism within the country, along with providing new employment opportunities in the tourism sector.

“We will expand Bharat’s top-tier startup ecosystem to tier-2 and tier-3 cities. Further, we will transform Bharat into a global centre for high-quality services including tourism to generate high value and diverse employment opportunities nationwide,” the party said.

Congress promises: “We will repair relations with the Maldives,” the party’s manifesto read. It hardly mentions reforms in the tourism sector of the country.

4. Myanmar

What’s the problem to be addressed: According to reports, over 31,000 people from Myanmar, mostly from the Chin state, have taken refuge in Mizoram following the military coup in the neighbouring country in February 2021.

BJP promises: The party said it will develop infrastructure along Indo-Myanmar borders and also promised to “introduce technological solutions on fenced portions to make fencing smarter.”

Congress promises: The party said it will work with Myanmar to protect the political and human rights of the people of Myanmar.

5. Global south

What’s the matter to be addressed: The phrase “Global South” refers broadly to the regions of Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. “It is one of a family of terms, including “Third World” and “Periphery,” that denote regions outside Europe and North America, mostly (though not all) low-income and often politically or culturally marginalised,” a report said.

BJP promises: The BJP aims to make India the “voice of the Global South”. The party said that in its third term, it “will further consolidate Bharat’s position as a Voice of the Global South by using the Prime Minister’s visionary 5S approach of Samman, Samvad, Sahyog, Shanti and Samriddhi.”

“We aim to significantly increase the value of the Space Economy, positioning Bharat as a leading space power and extending support to Global South countries in utilising space and space technology services,” the BJP added.

Congress promises: “We will work to strengthen India’s role in multilateral institutions, co-ordinate positions with other countries of the Global South on vital issues, and continue to work for reform and empowerment of international organisations to deal with the major challenges that transcend borders,” the manifesto said.

6. Foreign trade

BJP promises: The BJP promised to facilitate the international movement of trade and services through India by boosting connectivity to Europe via the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor.

Congress promises: It said the party will will make every effort to conclude long-pending trade negotiations with other countries in the interests of Indian producers and consumers.

7. India’s international image

BJP promises: The BJP said it will expand the network of India’s missions and diplomats to pursue the global interests that have been secured by Bharat’s unprecedented rise in the global order.

Congress promises: It promised to repair India’s international image that, it said, “has been damaged by the present government’s intolerance of dissent and suppression of human rights.” The party pledged to restore India’s global reputation as a voice of peace and moderation in world affairs.

Other key promises by BJP and Congress

BJP promises Congress promises
First Responder Bharat: The BJP will further promote India’s reputation as a ‘trusted global partner and a first responder’, continuing its humanitarian assistance and disaster relief programmes. The grand old party mentioned its policy towards Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh. It said that once in power at the Centre, the party will ‘re-establish the primacy of our special relationships with Nepal and Bhutan and strengthen them to our mutual benefit’
It is also committed to seeking permanent membership in the UN Security Council to elevate India’s position in global decision-making. On India-Bangladesh ties, it said it ‘will enhance economic and cultural relations between India and Bangladesh, which are the two most populous countries in South Asia’.
Neighbourhood First Policy: Under the BJP’s rule, India will continue being a trusted and responsible partner in the subcontinent, promoting regional On relations with Sri Lanka, the Congress said it will work with Sri Lanka to restore the political and commercial relations between the two countries and help Sri Lanka resolve its political issues, especially with the Tamils.
Indian diaspora: The BJP said it will actively involve ‘Bharatiya diaspora’ in India’s progress and will provide unwavering support during their times of need. The Congress re-affirmed its ‘firm belief in the continued relevance of the established policy of peaceful co-existence, strategic autonomy in thought and action, and increased bilateral engagement in its relations with the countries of the world.’

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Published: 14 Apr 2024, 04:25 PM IST


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