Has the mirror cracked – the wake up call for the BJP

The election results of Delhi has surely been a dampner to BJP and also sounded a bugle alarm in general. No doubt political analysts of the BJP would say that it is not a referendum on Modi but in private would admit that its a slap on its face. It sure is a major embarrassment to the BJP and Modi himself. This has clearly showed that the aura of invincibility around Modi – Amit Shah has been cracked.

The reasons are many. There has been a serious of blunders created by BJP :

  • Delaying of elections is something un-explicable. Immediately after a thumping win and having routed AAP & Congress in the Lok Sabha elections, BJP should have called for immediate Assembly elections in Delhi. Instead they kept vacillating and even hoping to split the opposition and cobble a make-shift government. What this did is it gave time to AAP to recouperate both in terms of manpower organizational strength and also funds to campaign.
  • In eight months, the Congress got decimated and their vote share went to the AAP instead of the BJP. If the elections were held immediately after the Loksabha elections, may be most of this would have gone to the BJP.
  • The minorities, the dalits and migrant population also voted for the BJP and other parties. But after a series of communal incidents and the behavior of right wing elements in the BJP, the minorities and the Dalits swung their votes to the AAP. The eight month rule did not instill confidence in these sections of the society that BJP would provide a stable and secular government in the country, where people of all religions would be able to cohabitate and live a peaceful life without fear of persecution. If the elections were held immediately after the Lok Sabha elections maybe many of these votes would still have gone to the BJP.
  • They fell into the trap of attacking Arvind Kejrival and even making it as a Arvind vs Modi fight, when it was actually not the case. The BJP did not learn from lessons. Modi made it to the Centre only because the entire opposition ran a negative campaign against Modi and attacked him at every stage. The same thing happened to Arvind. BJP went all out attacking Arvind and ran a very negative campaign, when Arvind was going about his campaign positively.

  • They also fell into the trap of announcing a Chief Ministerial candidate. While resisting for most part, they succumbed in the fag end by bringing in an outsider viz. Kiran Bedi – much to the chagrin of his own loyal partyman and it served no purpose. Neither was Kiran able to mobilize the much needed vote and stop Arvind in his stride nor was she able to quell the demoralization within her team BJP. Or if it was a strategy to insulate Modi from the defeat, it didnt serve the purpose either. 
  • The strategy of exposing misdeeds of Arvind did not find favour with the voters. He became a martyr who was being targeted. If they attacked AAP of hawala transactions, then it boomeranged because BJP has lot many questions to answer about where is it getting its money to fund the lavish election expenditure. BJP has published in its report to the Election commission that is spent around 750 crores in the last Lok Sabha elections but no one knows from where the money came. Similarly it is estimated that BJP has spent the largest amount of money in any state election in Delhi and is sure to raise doubts about its source of funding. If BJP is serious it must agree to bringing electoral funding and the Political parties under the RTI Act. Here the AAP made a political master stroke by publicly challenging BJP to come under the ambit of the RTI Act.
  • By putting all its political might into the election – dragging Modi into the election campaign, bringing Kiran Bedi, deputing all its Cabinet ministers & MPs into the campaign, pressing the RSS pracharaks into the campaign and pumping vast amounts of money into the poll campaign, the BJP has exposed itself into showing how important this election was and as a result the outcome of this election results.
The BJP must not put this result under the carpet and deny that it is a set back to the party. It might defend saying that Delhi is only an aberration. You cant win every time and you will lose some matches. But great teams that have consistently won over a long period of time, have been quick to identify their mistakes from their early losses and then learn from mistakes and take course corrections and regain their top in no time. 

This loss to the BJP is going to embolden the beleaguered opposition. It does show that if there is a united and spirited opposition, it can dent the BJP. It does show that no one is invincible and that even the mighty have to fall one day. 

The BJP must climb down from
  • Being perceived to be an arrogant party (buoyed by its recent successes) and avoid the mistakes of Congress by being a humble party, transparent in its actions & decisions, respecting its opponents, taking all sections of the society in its journey and focussing on good governance
  • Respect its opponents and any opposition
  • Focus as much on domestic politics and not just building an international image,
  • Must walk its talk and demonstrate perceivable results (the black money issue – after all they promised to bring back within 100 days)
  • Not be seen as just pro-industrial and therefore seen as a elitist party but also sympathise and cater to the poor section of the society
  • Not be in a hurry to tear down the opposition and form a government (West Bengal – seemingly in a hurry to dismantle Mamta Bannerjee or Bihar or in Tamil Nadu). Bid your time, show some solid work & development in the Centre and when the time comes, stake your claim ethically
  • Don’t be seen as a one man party (NaMo) but also encourage and prop up other BJP leaders. There is a overkill of Modi and is negatively affecting his image. Let him take a break / go into the background for some time. Over publicity is bad.
  • Most importantly break his silence over the hara-kiri being committed by the right wing elements in his party viz. “ghar wapsi” campaign, blatant threats to hold mass reconversions, Controversy over “love jihad”, Attacks on churches & religious places, attempting to make Christmas Day a working day, forcefully marrying couples on Valentine Day, the sudden love and felicitation for Nathuram Godse, oppose anything critical about Hindiusm, even if it a picture of imagination or a fiction (PK film), trying to impose Hindutva curriculum in schools etc.

This has alienated the BJP from the minorities &  the dalits. They must ensure that all Congress votes come into BJP and not to the opposition parties.  Modi has to win back their confidence by denouncing these actions of the right wing elements in his party and unequivocally confirming the secular credentials of India and his commitment to place National interests above these right wing interests.

The party also has a wonderful opportunity of using the Union Budget to drive home some important messages to all sections of the society and not be seen as pro-rich, elitist, favouring the industries only nor are we recommending to move to the LEFT. 

All is not lost. Whether the AAP is a worthwhile experiment or a credible opposition to the BJP is a mater of debate and only time will tell.  But it does strengthen Democracy by providing a stiff fight and having a credible opposition which will help act as a watch guard and keep the BJP government on its toes. 

The focus will now shift to Bihar and BJP will be really tested. Hope it will learn from its Delhi lessons.

BJP is still the best party to govern, but if it does not acknowledge the reversals of the Delhi election and change its gears and make course corrections, the Delhi experience could well be the Waterloo for BJP & Modi and perhaps the beginning of their downfall……
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