The uncalled for criticism of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi by the JD (U) leadership, selection of the wrong candidate and increasing dependence on the bureaucracy led to the defeat of the JD (U) nominee P K Sahi in the Maharajganj by-election, feel top Bihar BJP leaders.
"Unsavory comments on Narendrabhai by the JD (U) leaders apparently alienated the voters from Sahiji and became a major factor for his defeat," said Bihar health minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey.
"He would have forfeited his deposit, had the BJP workers not supported him," said Choubey while commenting on JD (U) nominee's statement, that the local BJP workers were not enthusiastic and did not side with him wholeheartedly. Several senior BJP leaders campaigned for Sahi though the JD (U) leadership or Sahi had not invited them, Choubey said. "I personally toured the constituency extensively, even though I was not requested either by the nominee or by the JD (U) state president," he claimed.
"I personally believe that some JD (U) leaders conspired against Sahiji and ensured his defeat," Choubey said. "I have been given the impression, that he had accepted defeat even before the poll began."
Choubey, however, cautioned the RJD, saying, "It should not be jubilant over this temporary victory. I am sure that the NDA will carry out the exercise of introspection and work resolutely to defeat the opposition unitedly in the forthcoming general Lok Sabha polls," he claimed.
Some BJP leaders also believed that Sahi was 'not a suitable candidate' for Maharajganj, where he was entirely a new face. "Sahi should not have contested the poll from this constituency. Or, if at all he was willing, he should have started nursing it since the constituency became vacant," said BJP national vice-president Dr CP Thakur.
"Also, the growing alienation of the government from the general masses and its increasing dependency on a handful of bureaucrats contributed to the defeat of the JD (U) candidate," he said.
Thakur, who is a former BJP state chief, also felt that the 'unnecessary controversy' created by the JD (U) leadership over Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi's candidature for primeministership confused the electorates, who went against Sahi.
Incidentally, Thakur did not visit Maharajganj this time around. "Why should I? Neither the JD (U) president nor the candidate requested me to campaign," he said.
BJP leader Giriraj Singh, who is the animal husbandry minister in the Nitish Kumar cabinet, advised the NDA leaders to introspect and think why the development plank clicked in Narendra Modi's Gujarat, and failed in Bihar.
"Why have the minority voters enthusiastically supported the BJP in Gujarat, but they did not do the same in the case of the JD (U) nominee in Bihar?", he asked adding, "It is also a matter of introspection."
Reacting to Sahi's reported statement that local BJP workers did not support him, Giriraj Singh said, "It is a statement given in desperation. It is also against the coalition dharma."
According to BJP national secretary Rameshwar Chaurasia, workers were not happy with the JD (U) nominee and so they were demoralised and could not do their best at the booths. "I have been told that Sahi knew of this beforehand and that was the reason why he accepted defeat after the third round of the counting itself," he said.