India election 2019: Has India’s BJP government kept its promises?


The election campaign in India is in full swing, with voting due to get under way on 11 April.

It is by a considerable margin the largest democratic process in the world, with around 900 million people eligible to take part.

Five years on from his victory in 2014, the prime minister Narendra Modi wants a fresh mandate to continue what he says is his mission to transform India.

But the main opposition Congress Party says he’s failed in key areas.

So how has this government matched up to its promises?

BBC Reality Check has been taking a look at the issues, using available data to evaluate the claims made by the main parties.

Keeping India secure

At the end of February, security became a major issue after an attack in Indian-controlled Kashmir, in which 40 soldiers were killed.

The government presented itself as the true guardian of the country’s security, after launching retaliatory strikes in Pakistan.

But the opposition Congress hit back, saying the security situation in Kashmir was now worse under this government than under their own rule before 2014.

The data shows that until the end of last year, the level of militant activity under the two governments is broadly similar.

But it is also the case that infiltration attempts into Indian-administered Kashmir have been rising since 2016.

You can read more on this in an in-depth Reality Check report here:

India, the manufacturing superpower?

The Modi government has looked to the manufacturing sector to drive economic growth and create jobs.

Under it’s “Make in India” scheme, it pledged to raise the share of manufacturing to 25% of GDP – the overall measure of goods and services – by 2025.

However, as the data shows, the contribution of the manufacturing sector has remained just above 15% in recent years, and experts doubt the target will be met.

However, the economy overall continues to grow.

Are women now safer in India?

The opposition Congress manifesto says women’s safety is a key concern ahead of these elections.

The BJP government says it has brought in tough laws to combat violence against women.

The data shows a rise in the reporting of rape to the authorities, particularly after the notorious Delhi gang rape of 2012.

But the conviction rate for cases that go to the courts hasn’t really improved in the last few years.

We explore the measures introduced to prevent and punish violence against women in this video:

What’s the situation in India’s villages?

A large proportion of India’s population depends on agriculture for a living.

So the state of the rural economy is another key issue in the election.

The opposition has highlighted the plight of farmers faced with a squeeze on their livelihoods.

Three years ago, Prime Minister Modi promised to double farmers’ incomes by 2022.

But there are few signs that the government is on track to meet its target.

One policy that’s been tried to help struggling farmers is writing off their debts – in the form of loan waivers.

National household surveys, which are carried out roughly every five years, show that rural debt in India has been rising for many years, although data from the most recent 2017/18 survey has yet to be released.

Mr Modi has attacked Congress for past loan waiver schemes, saying they are not a real solution for hardship in the farming sector.

The evidence Reality Check found shows that he’s probably right – writing off debts is not always effectively implemented, and can create more problems in its wake.

Have plans to clean up India worked?

Mr Modi has come forward with various promises under his Clean India programme.

We’ve taken a look at a scheme to encourage the use of cleaner domestic fuel for cooking.

In 2016, a programme was launched by the government to supply cylinders of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) to tens of millions of rural households to discourage the use of dirtier fuels like kerosene, wood and cow dung.

Many households switched to the cleaner fuel, so this was a success.

But there are also indications that the cost of having cylinders refilled is acting as a deterrent to the continued use of LPG.

Building India’s toilets

Open defecation and a lack of sanitary facilities have long been problems in India.

The prime minister said under his Clean India programme, 90% of Indians now have access to a toilet – up from 40% before he came into office in 2014.

Government data shows how the project has progressed.

The BJP government has indeed built many more household toilets during its term in office.

But it’s also true that not all toilets are working properly, and there’s evidence that – for a variety of reasons – they don’t always get used.

Cleaning up the Ganges

One of the biggest Clean India projects was focused on the River Ganges, which is holy to millions of Hindus.

Mr Modi has thrown $3bn (£2.3bn) at the plan to clean up the river by 2020. The Ganges has been blighted for years by pollution and over-use.

But Reality Check discovered that although a lot more money has been made available, only a small proportion has so far been spent.

So despite some improvements, the river is very unlikely to be completely clean by next year.

Watch our Reality Check video explaining why cleaning one of the world’s great rivers is such a monumental challenge:

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