The dismal performance of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) veterans in Uttar Pradesh, many of them from the days of the Ram temple movement, has left the party with little choice. BJP leaders say they will now have to rebuild the party from scratch, filling its ranks — from "top to bottom" — with fresh faces.
Though a thorough post-mortem of the party's UP debacle is yet to begin, many admit that it could be because the BJP did not have a young face at the helm like the Samajwadi Party's Akhilesh Yadav, who took the baton from his father, Mulayam Singh Yadav, and won the battle.
Many youngsters from the BJP were working on the field, instead of taking places on the stage to woo voters. According to party strategists, this factor — among others — cost the BJP dearly in cities and towns.
The party won 47 seats, accounting for just 15 per cent votes, in Uttar Pradesh. Sources say the BJP was placed second in 55 seats. It had lost 18 seats by a margin of around 500 votes, and 15 seats by 5,000 votes.
Three former state presidents - Kesri Nath Tripathi, Ramapati Ram Tripathi and Om Prakash Singh - and the current state chief of the party, Surya Pratap Shahi, lost the polls. Vinay Katiyar did not contest the elections.
Rajnath Singh's constituency of Ghaziabad saw the BJP losing in all six assembly seats. It also met with defeat in Lucknow, which was being represented by former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in the Lok Sabha until the 2009 polls.
The party had failed to take into account demographic changes in the electorate, particularly the addition of 18-plus voters every year. Most of the prominent figures in the BJP on Tuesday have been heading the party since the Ram temple movement, something that most people are not rooting for anymore, a party leader said.
The BJP even lost in Ayodhya, and the city has now come to resemble a bastion of the SP. According to sources, one of the main reasons for this was Uma Bharti's projection that the party had not deviated from the "Hindutva ideology" or the Ram temple issue.
Meanwhile, the younger generation in the BJP hope that in light of the Akhilesh Yadav phenomenon, the top brass will make due changes in the party structure — so it can achieve a better strike rate in the 2014 polls.