BJP to carry out detailed evaluation of Delhi results, plan to increase vote share to 51%
BJP, which failed to convert its campaign pivoted on issues of nationalism into a victory in Delhi, has set itself a goal of reviving its organisational structure and increasing the party’s vote share to as much as 51% for the forthcoming elections, said persons aware of the developments.Updated: Feb 14, 2020 01:48 IST
The Delhi unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) will have a marathon meeting on Friday to carry out a detailed evaluation of the Delhi assembly polls, said people aware of the matter. A meeting was also held on Thursday which was attended by party chief JP Nadda, Delhi unit chief Manoj Tiwari and key organisational functionaries, where the process of an organisational revamp also came up for discussion.
The party, which failed to convert its campaign pivoted on issues of nationalism into a victory in Delhi, has set itself a goal of reviving its organisational structure and increasing the party’s vote share to as much as 51% for the forthcoming elections, said persons aware of the developments.
While the party’s vote share has shown an increase –up from 32.1% to 38.45% -- its seat tally has risen only by four; way below the figures the party was confident of winning.
“We will focus on reviving the party cadre, change the organisational set up and ensure that the vote share is at least 51%, across segments, because that will then be our dedicated votebank,” said senior a party functionary.
After Tuesday’s results, several party functionaries who spoke to HT said a quick assessment of the electoral performance has shown that the party could not take on the arch rival, the Aam Admi Party’s “freebies” or the subsidies that the AAP government offered on water and power bills. They also admitted that the dependence on central leadership and issues of national importance instead of issues that resonated locally, contributed to the party’s poor electoral performance.
“There were problems in our campaign, we lacked a face (a chief ministerial candidate); the party began canvassing rather late and the cadre was demotivated. These issues need to be addressed,” said a second functionary.
Pointing out that “grassroots connections” and a “dedicated cadre” are the party’s forte, the second functionary said, the party’s focus on national issues did not resonate in the national capital that has a “social composition” different from other states.
In Delhi, where the BJP had won just three of the 70 seats in the last assembly elections, the party fought a pitched battle to wrest control of Delhi from the AAP using national issues as poll planks.
While the party in its manifesto promised to combat air and water pollution; turn lease hold property of traders in Delhi into freehold and provided subsidised wheat flour; the campaign was strategically pivoted on the amended citizenship act and its impact on national security. The party used the ongoing protests at Shaheen Bagh against the CAA and the proposed National Population Register (NPR) as an illustration of attempts to destabilise the country and its security.
The party’s ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had also favoured focusing on the anti-CAA protests in the Capital to drive to home the gravity of the “growing influence of anti-national forces”. RSS cadre that carried out the last mile canvassing for the party had used the anti-CAA stir in Shaheen Bagh as a key issue to drum up support for the BJP.
Senior party leaders, including Union home minister Amit Shah who led the campaign in Delhi had CAA and the protests against it as the centrepiece of their canvassing. The high-decibel campaign saw BJP leaders raise objectionable slogans, earning censure from the election commission, but the party did not change track.
Even as its prime opponent, the AAP kept local issues at the core of the election campaign, carefully avoiding taking sides with the CAA protesters, the BJP did not shy away from linking the protest to political machinations. During his rally in Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi blamed the protests on political designs.
This is the fifth electoral upset that the party has faced since 2018, when it lost three Hindi heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to the Congress. The defeat in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh was exacerbated by the fact that the party had been ruling in these states for 15 years. The party managed to return to power in Haryana, after taking JJP on board. The BJP had emerged as the single largest party with 40 seats, but fell short of six seats to form the government on its own.
In Maharashtra too, where it was the single largest party, it could not form government, after its oldest ally, the Shiv Sena, pulled out of the alliance over power-sharing disagreement.
Months after it swept to power at the centre in May 2019 with 303 members in the Lok Sabha, the party failed to retain hold of yet another state, Jharkhand. In all these states, the BJP’s election strategy was relying on issues that had a pan India resonance such as the surgical strikes and post August 5, it showcased the Abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir as fulfilling a long pending promise (in Haryana and Maharashtra polls).