The decimation of the party at the hands of AAP in the 2015 Delhi election was not so much an achievement of AAP but a complete failure on part of the BJP that got caught up in its own hype and perception game.
True, Narendra Modi remains a popular leader in the country and commands the respect of the nation, but in the last nine months, he has done little for the people of Delhi. The common man has been asking how Modi’s achievements in the international arena was impacting his life.
First cracks in BJP’s poll strategy
The Amit Shah-Narendra Modi combine has been successfully delivering results for the party, thus far. How did it go so wrong in reading the people’s mood? There are those who will try and attribute this decimation to Kiran Bedi, but the answers lie elsewhere.
Not just Delhi, but the entire nation has been waiting patiently for Modi to take steps that the common man could identify with and demonstrate results that are tangible and immediate. This has not happened so far. While the Prime Minister’s stock has risen in the international community, people have been questioning his silence on critical issues like the rising voices of RSS ideology and polarizing calls like ‘Ghar Wapsi’ and ‘Love Jihad’.
People are also questioning his silence on poll promises on removing Article 370 and bringing in Uniform Civil Code. While these are matters of concern, the common man is also wary of dwindling job, rising inflation, high cost of living, and lack of electricity. He has not seen any real action on these fronts so far.
On the other hand, Arvind Kejriwal has been voicing his commitment to champion the cause of the aam aadmi by lowering the cost of living, bringing down the cost of electricity, and making drinking water available for free. Very obviously, these have resonated positively with the people.
BJP’s PR and Media campaigns backfired
BJP completely failed to use their massive media and PR machinery to drive home the message that the party could deliver real solutions to people’s problems. Instead, all resources were deployed to target Arvind Kejriwal and bring disrepute to him. The massive negative campaign only helped Kejriwal get more media space than he bargained for.
BJP has lost all its stronghold seats and this also reflects the failure of BJP workers. With Kiran Bedi’s induction was not supported fully by old party hands, the margin of loss points to internal sabotage. How else can Kiran Bedi’s loss be explained in Krishna Nagar constituency that has been a BJP stronghold? BJP needs to urgently review its internal party structure and working mechanism.
Is Modi’s charisma waning?
Narendra Modi’s political charisma may be eroding and that seems to come out strongly in Delhi. This is the same city where he resides as the Prime Minister and his personal presence at rallies should have convinced, at least a section of people. This has not happened, which means either his clout is waning or his charisma was over-hyped by his PR machinery and media. Either ways, the damage has been done and now the BJP will have to rethink on how to approach the forthcoming elections in Bihar, West Bengal and Kerala.
Will Delhi election result affect BJP’s prospects in other states?
The result in Delhi is going to impact BJP’s chances in future elections. In Bihar, the JD(U) is undergoing political turmoil; TMC is fighting for survival in West Bengal with party leaders jumping ship on account of the Saradha scam and Kerala has its own pressures.
In this volatile scenario, the BJP was poised to capitalize on a weak opposition. However, with the drubbing received in Delhi, the message that has gone out to opposing parties is very strong – BJP is not infallible.
There have been several voices, albeit weak ones, from opposition parties to come together and put up a challenge to BJP. This result is now going to give an adrenalin shot to these opposing voices and make BJP’s run that much more difficult.
The result also gives the regional parties, which felt threatened by BJP’s formidable presence, a chance to renew their efforts to stand up to BJP on their home turf.
Is it curtains for BJP?
Not really. In fact this could well be the best thing to have happened to a party that was becoming complacent. Narendra Modi has to now come out of the shadows of the RSS and decisively silence the polarizing forces that have begun to raise their heads.
Next, the government has to fast track proposed reforms and ensure that the forthcoming budget clearly defines actionable policies.
The PM has to present a moderate face to a secular nation. This will help in sustaining a centrist approach while pushing a progressive development agenda that is palatable to all regions of India.
BJP still has time for course correction, provided the party high command believes in introspection. The results of the next election will show whether BJP has put its internal house in order or whether it is still living in denial.