Stunned by the Assembly election results, the Bharatiya Janata Party has postponed a meeting of its Parliamentary Board to Friday. The party said the results were not up to its expectations, but it was not frustrated or desperate.
One leader said the board meeting was postponed because there were no governments to be formed, nor did the long-awaited resignation of Vasundhara Raje as Leader of the Opposition in Rajasthan materialise as she had rushed to Mumbai to attend a funeral.
The BJP blamed Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena for its poor showing in Maharashtra, pointing out that the splitting of the Shiv Sena vote adversely affected the alliance in 40-45 constituencies.
While accepting the results “with all humility,” BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said the strong anti-incumbency vote in Maharashtra scattered, benefiting the ruling alliance.
Party leaders agreed that the MNS not only hurt the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance in Mumbai-Thane, as expected, but also made a surprisingly strong showing in other regions as well, including Marathwada. However, there would be no re-think on its two decades-old alliance with the Shiv Sena.
“Lack of credibility”
One BJP leader said that in 1995, the BJP-Sena coalition won the Maharashtra Assembly election “on the back of the 1992-93 communal riots” but the votes the coalition got after the “Ram temple campaign” simply vanished, never to come back, as the BJP failed to deliver on its promise of a Ram temple at Ayodhya. It was a case of lack of credibility.
Did postponing the board meeting mean that the party would once again shy away from analysing the reasons for its defeat?
Mr. Prasad did not agree: “Analysing results is an ongoing process. We will sweep nothing under the carpet. We will have to honestly think of our weaknesses.”
Party leaders did not think that the poor results from Maharashtra would in any way affect the chances of a leader from the State becoming the next BJP president when Rajnath Singh’s term ends. This was said in the context of State president Nitin Gadkari’s name being mentioned by some close to Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L. K. Advani.
In Haryana, where the BJP won four seats as against the two it held in the last Assembly. This was a “better performance” despite its going solo.
However, the blame game in the party has started with the good showing by Om Prakash Chautala’s Indian National Lok Dal, which walked away with 31 seats. There were some in the BJP who were in favour of continuing the alliance with the INLD despite the 0-10 setback in the Lok Sabha elections. There were others who favoured a tie-up with Bhajan Lal’s Haryana Janhit Congress, but that idea too did not work out.
BJP general secretary Vijay Goel kept alive a hope of a non-Congress government being formed in Haryana, welcoming the announcement by Mr. Chautala that he was very much in the game of government formation. The message was: the BJP would not hesitate to support the INLD in its efforts.In Arunachal Pradesh, the BJP had lost long before the election campaign began. About half-a-dozen MLAs quit the party and more recently, the former MP Kiran Rijiju left also to join the Congress. The Congress victory was a result foretold.