Jolted by the defeat of S.S. Alhuwalia, the BJP nominee for the Rajya Sabha from Jharkhand, senior party leaders here met for a preliminary assessment of what went wrong in the polls.

The party has reasons to be worried as the BJP heads the government in the State with the support of the Jharkhand Mukthi Morcha (JMM) and the defeated candidate was the Deputy Leader of the party in the Rajya Sabha.

There have been differences within the central leadership on the approach to the election to fill two vacancies from the State to the Rajya Sabha. Initially the party had decided not to contest as it did not have the requisite numbers and instead back an independent candidate and NRI businessman Anshuman Mishra. There was a furore within the party on the decision to back Mr. Mishra and there were charges that some top leaders had mortgaged the interests of the party for ulterior motives. The reaction was so sharp that ultimately the party had to distance itself from Mr. Mishra.

Fortunately for the party, the Election Commission (EC) cancelled the poll on grounds of irregularities. The EC ordering a fresh election gave it an opportunity to reverse its earlier stand and field Mr. Ahluwalia.

There is a perception within the party that senior BJP leaders did not do enough to ensure the victory of Mr. Alhuwalia. This became evident as even the two independent MLAs Chamra Linda and Bidesh Singh, who support the BJP-JMM coalition government in Jharkhand, did not vote for Mr. Ahluwalia.

The Congress which has only 13 members in a House of 82 managed to ensure the success of its nominee Pradip Kumar Balmuchu.

BJP parliamentary party chief L.K. Advani, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and party leaders Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha and Ananth Kumar, who had been sent by the central leadership as an observer for the polls, were present.