Delhi poll debacle: Introspection time for BJP

Party insiders admit election strategy failed to gauge voters’ mood

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:31 pm IST

Published - February 11, 2015 02:24 am IST

A deserted BJP office in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

A deserted BJP office in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

he Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday admitted that it had completely failed to gauge the mood of Delhi voters in the Assembly election.

While putting on a brave face, BJP leaders said the verdict would usher in changes in the party’s functioning and its political tactics in the coming days. After a meeting of the Union Cabinet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the results with key Ministers from his party on Tuesday night.

Sources said the BJP would review the Delhi election results specifically with regard to its political strategy, ticket distribution, booth management and organisational health. For starters, the BJP may not back Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s attempt to destabilise the Janata Dal (United). “We will have to pull back and tread carefully in Bihar,” a senior BJP leader from the State told The Hindu, adding that the party would have to revisit its strategy of “belittling allies and party workers for quick electoral gains.”

BJP president Amit Shah followed a policy of inviting leaders from other parties during election to join the party in the hope that these leaders would bring with them the support of their voters. Mr. Modi encouraged the strategy introduced in the Lok Sabha elections and it has been pursued aggressively of late leading to disenchantment among old-timers.

“We humbly accept our defeat in Delhi. People chose to go with PM Modi and BJP in the Lok Sabha elections, but chose the AAP over us in the Assembly elections,” Union IT and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, adding “we will play the role of a responsible opposition.”

While Delhi State in-charge Prabhat Jha admitted that the party completely “failed to gauge the mood in Delhi,” he defended the top leadership when asked if the Modi wave had flattened. “The party president gave us the responsibility, it is we who failed. The PM’s referendum will be in 2019,” he said in response to a question.

But leaders admit that the Modi-Shah style of centralised decision-making and functioning is being questioned in hushed tones after the party was left with barely three seats in the 70-member House. “I am shocked how we completely failed to assess the voters’ mood. The elections should have been held when there was a feel good factor,” a Cabinet Minister, requesting anonymity, said.

The BJP’s strategy of dominating allies is also being questioned. The party hurriedly patched up with the Shiromani Akali Dal, its ally in Punjab, during the Delhi poll with Sikh votes in mind after aggressively criticising it since the Haryana elections.

Shiv Sena chief Udhav Thackeray reacted to the Delhi verdict saying, “The people of Delhi have shown the might of a tsunami against a wave.”

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