Admitting that things didn’t go as planned in Bihar, where the >Nitish Kumar-led Grand Alliance won by a thumping majority , the Parliamentary Board of the Bharatiya Janata Party took stock of the State Assembly results in which the party suffered a debacle.
A day after the results were out from Bihar, the BJP Parliamentary Board met at the party headquarters with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party President Amit Shah and other top leaders in attendance to review the performance.
Protecting the leadership from any attack, the BJP ruled out holding anyone responsible for the rout in Bihar Assembly elections and rejected criticism even from within that RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s quota remarks was one of the major reasons for the defeat.
'Lost due to arithmetic'
The party admitted that it lost because the size of the “social arithmetic” cobbled by the grand alliance was bigger than the NDA and acknowledged that its assessment that the vote transferability among the JD(U), RJD and Congress will not happen proved “incorrect“.
“As far as accountability is concerned, the party collectively wins and collectively loses,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told the media while briefing them on the Parliament Board meeting deliberations.
He was replying to a question about what action the party proposes to take towards holding someone accountable for the humiliating defeat in Bihar.
Asked if a second loss after the Delhi rout reflected on the leadership of Mr. Shah, whose tenure is coming to an end in January, Mr. Jaitley strongly defended him.
Winning and losing is part of the game, he said, pointing to the fact that after the Lok Sabha success the BJP had won four assembly elections and a string of local body polls in several states under him. “The party collectively wins and collectively loses.”
'Bhagwat not to be blamed'
Mr. Jaitley rejected the perception that the controversial comments of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat calling for a review of reservation for OBCs cost the party dearly in the elections.
“We don’t accept that,” he told a questioner when it was pointed out that some party leaders and allies have suggested that his remarks were a major reason for the defeat.
“One comment cannot decide elections,” he said while disagreeing with suggestions that Shah’s “crackers in Pakistan” remark also damaged their prospects.
The Minister said the BJP has always clarified since its inception that they support reservation and made it clear in 1991 after the Mandal Commission report.
“We have accepted the concept of reservation on the basis of social backwardness. I understand that this is also the stand of RSS. There should be no confusion about it,” he said.