In India, the main opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has unveiled its election platform as the country prepares for national elections in mid April. The party has made several financial pledges, proposed a raft of populist measures, and promised to enact tougher anti-terror laws. Anjana Pasricha has a report from New Delhi.
The opposition Hindu Nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sought to win voters across rural and urban India by promising to lower interest rates on housing loans, to give subsidized rice to poor families, and to extend cheaper farm loans.
Unveiling its election platform on Friday, the party also said it would lower taxes, and take steps to bring back Indian money illegally stashed overseas if it is voted to power.
The BJP's principal adversary is the Congress-led ruling coalition, to whom it lost five years ago. The BJP's defeat in 2004 was attributed to its failure to improve the circumstances of the poor during the six years it ruled the country.
The party's candidate for prime minister, Lal Krishna Advani, says the party is promising what it can deliver, and will do it honestly.
Mr. Advani promises that his party can ensure good governance, development, welfare of the people, and security.
The governing Congress Party has also promised a string of populist measures in its election platform, unveiled last week.
The BJP, which accuses the Congress-led government of being "soft" in tackling terrorism, also promised to strengthen security and enact tougher laws to fight the menace. India has witnessed several terror attacks blamed on Islamic militants in recent years.
The BJP also says it remains committed to the construction of a controversial temple dedicated to the Hindu God Rama at the site of an ancient mosque, which was destroyed by Hindu activists in 1991. The demolition sparked some of India's worst Hindu-Muslim riots.
The BJP rose to prominence in the 1990's on the back of a Hindu revivalist campaign.
India's general elections will be held over a month starting April 16th. Vote counting will take place a month later. Neither of the two main parties -- the Congress Party and the BJP -- are expected to win a clear majority, and both are struggling to find allies, because a host of regional parties are expected to hold the balance of power.