The biggest reason for BJP’s loss in Delhi is it’s ‘One size fits all’ approach in all elections they fight. Election after election, they have used the same strategy which worked initially but has become jaded.
Let’s look at each reason that went against the BJP.
Lack of local face
BJP has overused its winning strategy, and it’s not working anymore. Take Narendra Modi. In 2014, he won the national heart as a man who promised and delivered. It worked in several states post-2014 but began losing steam from 2015 onwards.
Overdependence and overuse of Narendra Modi as the election mascot is not working anymore, and the party failed to take cognizance of it. State elections are not about national issues but local concerns.
Narendra Modi represents a national aspiration and remains firm in that role. However, people need a local face who inspires, and the BJP failed on this from several states. Delhi being the latest.
BJP presented no alternative to a well-entrenched Arvind Kejriwal, and it has cost them dearly.
Have a look at the table below:
The Most Compelling Reasons Why BJP Lost Delhi
|BJP shifted from Polarisation to Development agenda back and forth. Polarisation and Development are two different ball games altogether. There is no way you can play both in the same game.|
|BJP invested in defeating Kejriwal instead of defeating his agenda. Kejriwal is a Big Local Brand in Delhi. Without having any local brand against him was a wrong move.|
|Asking votes on the name of Mr Modi at the local level was seen as ridiculous, everyone knew that at best you will get a good puppet as the CM if BJP wins.|
|Allowing spam accounts to call AAP voters as Muftkhors hurt the voters.|
|Not suspending Parvesh Verma and Anurag Thakur for their comments which were outright communal.|
|Deploying BJP’s national might: The PM, the HM, all Union Cabinet & State Ministers, 11 CMs, 200 MPs and over 100,000 other leaders made Arvind Kejriwal look far more significant than he is.|
|Women felt empowered and stepped out to vote. It is the first time someone has treated them as more than equal. BJP couldn’t convince them to abandon AAP|
|Delhi electorate saw through BJP’s failure to create leaders of the stature of Madan Lal Khurana and Sahib Singh Verma.|
|The slowdown of the economy led to trader distress, and they drifted away from their core party.|
|Manoj Tiwari is an adverse brand and scares Punjabis and Sikhs who traditional see BJP Delhi as a party they created. Lack of any significant Punjabi leader hurt big time.|
|Jamia and JNU violence contributed to the anti-student image of BJP.|
|There was extreme infighting within BJP, and that has affected their chances in a few constituencies.|
BJP faulted in assuming Shaheen Bagh will resonate with the citizens of Delhi over fundamental local issues of safety, bijli, paani, clean air, etc. Leader after leader spouted anti-Kejriwal and anti-Shaheen Bagh rhetoric, in the hope of polarizing voters. It may have worked in UP but failed in Delhi. Running along with the same strategy as before cost BJP the opportunity to unseat AAP.
In areas of Sarita Vihar-Kalindi Kunj belt around Shaheen Bagh, AAP has done exceedingly well, which goes against BJP’s narrative that Shaheen Bagh is ‘sponsored’ and ‘anti-national.’ Most people of the area, which includes all communities, have voted in favour of AAP, to prove BJP’s theory wrong.
Also, BJP’s strident personal attacks on Arvind Kejriwal has not gone down well with the people of Delhi. On his part, Arvind Kejriwal did not pick up the gauntlet, remaining focused on the ‘Vikas’ agenda, on the advice of election strategist Prashant Kishore.
Lack of focus on local issues
BJP failed to take up issues where AAP failed and build a strategy around it to hit back at AAP. It could have resonated with the local people if it had facts to back the claims. BJP could have used Delhi’s pollution to put the blame on AAP and make them look inefficient but missed the chance.
Had the party kept Prashant Kishore with them, this is the line he would have taken and pulled out ten areas where the people were unhappy and would have gone into town screaming about it.
Somewhere Team BJP missed the importance of local concerns.
Not capitalizing on development agenda
Development and corruption-free governance were the two major factors that brought the Narendra Modi-led BJP to power in 2014. It is what gave him a second term in 2019.
So, how did BJP let go of two of its strongest points and allow a weak and disorganized (in the eyes of some) Arvind Kejriwal to steal both the USPs and present himself as a calm, sober, and focused champion of ‘Vikas’ and ‘corruption-free governance?’
BJP lost the plot big time, and now Kejriwal and AAP have the time and opportunity to consolidate that perception.
Promises galore too late
One look at BJP’s 2020 Delhi Election Manifesto reveals promises galore. Narendra Modi and BJP have a reputation on delivering on a large part of their promises, if not all. Still, the promises have come too late and not adequately communicated in light of AAP’s total focus on past performance as proof of delivering in future.
Change in national sentiment against BJP
BJP is failing to read the headlines in all the states it fights in. The sentiment in favour of Narendra Modi-led BJP is waning at the state level. BJP is confusing the national sentiment in support of Narendra Modi, the PM as popularity at the state level.
At the local level, people identify with local leaders and place their votes accordingly. Over-reliance on Narendra Modi to get it through in state elections is working against the BJP.
Delhi amply demonstrated the BJP cannot take its support for granted though they may still vote in favour of Narendra Modi-led BJP in Lok Sabha elections. Even that sentiment is increasingly getting tested.