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BJP encounters another setback in assembly polls

Much like in Jharkhand, though, where the party failed to measure up to a regional leader like Hemant Soren, the ploy did not work against AAP leader and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Feb 12, 2020, 08.20 AM IST
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The results suggest that BJP may have to review its strategy ahead of the next two critical state polls due in Bihar and West Bengal.
New Delhi: The Delhi assembly election results came as the fourth setback to BJP in nine months since it won the Lok Sabha polls.

The first two setbacks came from Haryana and Maharashtra. In Haryana, the BJP managed to form the government but only after stitching an alliance with pre-poll rival JJP, as its tally fell short of the majority mark. In Maharashtra, the BJP-led alliance won the elections, but its ally Shiv Sena severed ties with it owing to differences over power-sharing and formed the government by cobbling up a coalition with the opposition parties. In December, BJP lost the Jharkhand election comprehensively. Less than two months later, the party has faced a rout yet again in Delhi.

It happened despite a characteristically high-pitched campaign centred on Hindu nationalism, with the BJP seeking to rally people on issues such as the removal of Article 370 and the Citizenship Amendment Act. Much like in Jharkhand, though, where the party failed to measure up to a regional leader like Hemant Soren, the ploy did not work against AAP leader and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.

The results suggest that BJP may have to review its strategy ahead of the next two critical state polls due in Bihar and West Bengal. Bihar is scheduled to go to polls in November while the next elections in West Bengal is due early next year.

While AAP took care to refrain from mentioning PM Narendra Modi in its campaign, seeking to focus on local issues of Delhi where it perceived an advantage after having turned around basic amenities, BJP did not make this election Modi Vs Kejriwal either. The PM addressed only two rallies during the campaign. Nonetheless, led by a battery of other senior leaders, BJP ran a high-octane campaign. Home minister Amit Shah and national president JP Nadda were among the leaders who addressed many rallies and held interactions with small groups of people in the last month ahead of the February 8 polls.

A weak state organisation plagued BJP. BJP members told ET that two party MPs were not happy with the decision to give seats to JDU and LJP but the third MP pushed for this, with the result that the party gave two seats to JDU and one to LJP. This made it difficult to mobilise BJP workers on these seats, according to the members. Party workers also complained that too many leaders from different states camping in each seat led to confusion among workers.

On the polling day, BJP general secretary (organisation) Siddharthan, along with other senior leaders, sent out a message that 80% of the party’s voters should cast their votes by 11 am. Around 11 am, party president JP Nadda was to make a recorded call to all the designated workers on completion of 80% voting and then focus on the remaining voters. Nadda’s recorded call did go to workers but till that time voting was very low across Delhi.

In the afternoon the party mobilised voters and, as mentioned by several BJP leaders, a surge in voting percentage was recorded. But party workers said that too went against the party. During the review meeting held by Delhi BJP in-charge Shyam Jaju on February 9, one of the assembly incharges said the party arranged erickshaws to bring voters to polling stations but most of the voters used their e-rickshaws and voted for AAP.

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