BJP was once again left licking its wounds after yet another electoral drubbing. This time in Delhi assembly polls 2020. The party managed to win only 7 seats. What will hurt it most is that it gave it all to capture power in Delhi. Union Home Minister Amit Shah spearheaded the campaign with 45 rallies. Over 200 plus MP’s and Chief Minister’s of BJP states, Union Cabinet ministers joined the BJP blitz to woo the people of Delhi but all was in vain.
The nail in the BJP coffin was confirmed when Union Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur at a rally made an outrageous Goli Maaro remark ( days before the Union budget was to be presented), Parvesh Verma reportedly said Shaheen bagh protestors would come home and rape, AAP turned BJP turn-coat MLA Kapil Mishra had said February 11 would see a match between India and Pakistan. And adding to the list of irresponsible statements was Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Prakash Javadekar, who said Arvind Kejriwal was a terrorist and there are plenty of proofs of it.
Comments by Anurag Thakur and Kapil Mishra hurt the BJP hard. And after the post-poll rout, Union Home Minister Amit Shah at Times Now summit, candidly accepted that it wrong to make such statements and it hurt the party in the elections.
What surprised many was that Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses only two campaign rallies in the capital. It is also not fair to expect the Prime Minister to campaign vigorously in all state elections. It was left to the BJP state leadership under Manoj Tiwari to steer the ship. But the absence of Chief Ministerial faces cost BJP heavily.
In 2015 It was the Kiran Bedi blunder and in 2020 it was the Manoj Tiwari fiasco. It is a mystery why BJP ignored seasoned Delhi faces Vijay Goel and Dr. Harsh Vardhan away and not project them as CM faces?. These costly errors meant the party had no one to take on the incumbent Arvind Kejriwal. It was Kejriwal versus Who during the bitter high octane campaign. It was this advantage that tilted the scales in AAP favor.
The BJP brand of hyper-nationalism CAA, NRC, Article 370 did not find connect with the people of Delhi. Issues that were local and raised effectively by AAP found acceptability among the voters be it the freebies on water, electricity, etc . The AAP leadership astutely stayed away from getting into a slugfest on contentious issues with the BJP which the latter wanted to happen. Credit to AAP as it stood up to the money power, media power might of the BJP like a David vs Goliath match and emerged victoriously. AAP clearly punched above their weight in #Delhi Polls 2020. And winning 63 seats to their previous 67 in the 70 member Delhi assembly is nothing but stupendous.
BJP would certainly need to reinvent their narrative in the upcoming polls in Bihar scheduled to be in October 2020 and West Bengal in 2021. The humiliating loss in Delhi is bound to rattle its allies in Bihar ( JD( U) and the LJP of Ram Vilas Paswan. After Shiv Sena broke its alliance with BJP of 25 years, the last thing the BJP would want is now to antagonize the likes Of Nitish Kumar.
The reversals in Jharkhand, before that in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh barring the 2019 Lok Sabha polls have proved that Amit Shah’s so-called ‘Chanakya Niti’ is floundering. And it is now apparent that BJP minus the aggressive campaigning by its star campaigner – Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not many takers. Delhi is a classic example.
BJP in Delhi banked on Amit Shah’s campaign blitz and arithmetic and it fell flat on its face. Delhi’s loss can be attributed to a loss for Amit Shah not for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
There is in a sense a mood of the nation today – when it comes to Prime Ministership and voting nationally the people’s vote is for Modi the BJP ( but political winds can change quickly too if complacency, ego, arrogance of power emerges in a party), but when it comes to states it is the local issues and the local leadership. Hence acid test awaits BJP now post- Delhi polls in Bihar 2020 ( scheduled in October) and West Bengal and Kerala in 2021.
So, It is time for some course correction. And it is time BJP realizes that there is nothing called a language of Pakistan and all opposition leaders despite ideological differences are not in any sense anti-national. BJP cannot toe this line when it openly inducts leaders from other parties into its fold and their narrative changes. Their motto is simple you are clean when with us. But tainted when with others. There are classic examples to name a few: Mukul Roy (TMC) now BJP face in West Bengal, Himanta Biswa Sarma( Congress) now BJP North East strategist, Kapil Mishra ( AAP) who contested on BJP ticket this time. Where is the party with a difference?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s slogan of Sab Ka Saath Sab Ka Vikas Aur Vishwas has little meaning if party leader’s chant Goli Maaro to polarise the voters, incite violence and vitiate the atmosphere. And what’s more hold no remorse since one is part of the ruling dispensation. These are dangerous signs which put democracy in peril. With its brute majority in parliament and floundering Congress, BJP is at the pole position as a party nationally. But successive state election losses indicate that the pole position is not permanent in politics and can wither away as well. Hence BJP now needs a new narrative to stop this slide.