Should BJP Celebrate or Reflect on 2016 Election Results?

BJP in Assembly Elections 2016

The BJP slipped into a celebratory mood today as the party clinched a victory (although expected) in Assam. Its narrative that the ‘invasion’ of Assam by Bangladeshi immigrants will become irreversible if the Congress comes to power did yield visible result as people handed over the responsibility to Sarbananda Sonowal. Some of the party loyalists were ecstatic at having opened an account in West Bengal with five seats. But is it really a reason for the party to celebrate?

Did BJP misread West Bengal?

It surely gave too much importance to the fact that it had recorded its best ever performance in 2014 Lok Sabha polls by bagging two seats in West Bengal and increasing its vote share to 17 per cent. Or else, how should one explain the rationale behind fielding a clean slate like Chandra Kumar Bose against Mamata Banerjee in Bhowanipur constituency? Was it really a prudent move to field 291 candidates in a state where the party doesn’t have tall leaders like Suryakant Mishra of the CPI-M?

The BJP cannot rule out the possibility that it misread its target groups – the urban voters and people of Darjeeling. Instead, it decided to post its flag in the rural constituencies as well. The result is now in public domain: 5 seats were won out of the 291 seats contested. The results made it clear that the anti-Mamata voters wanted to vote for a party that can overthrow Mamata. They didn’t see that confidence in the BJP.

Where could the BJP have improved in Tamil Nadu?

Another state where the BJP seemed to spread itself too thin is Tamil Nadu. It’s success rate in the southern state is about 1.5% if we look at the fact that it has won 3 out of 188 seats it had contested. Didn’t they see this lackluster performance coming? Firstly, they fought the election in alliance with some small outfits in the state. Secondly, it has not been able to establish a connect with the political and cultural realities in the state.

Instead of fielding 188 candidates, the party would have done itself good by inventing in a plan by which it can make inroads into the hearts of people. Delivering speeches on Hindutva in a land that is fiercely proud of the Tamil identity and Dravidian culture or attacking Rahul Gandhi (who is a non-entity in the state) never helped them win confidence of the voters.

Where did the BJP go wrong in Kerala?

In Kerala, too, it just managed to open an account. However, winning 1 seat in a 140-seat Assembly doesn’t seem like a very big feat, especially when it had contested from 98 constituencies. The saffron party should be grateful to O. Rajagopal for making a debut in the state. However, the BJP needed to think out loud and ask a simple question: Now that RSS is gaining acceptability among the people of Kerala, will those talks about a ban on cow slaughter or slogans like ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ be forgotten?


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