So the BJP suffers its first major loss after Prime Minister Narendra Modi became party campaign chief, when it got hammered in the 2015 Delhi Assembly elections.
When you have been crushed this badly, it is not one thing, but a multitude of things that must have gone wrong for the BJP.
A look at some of the reasons why this happened…
1. Bahut acchhe din! If Modi promised acchhe din in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, then you could say that Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP promised bahut acche din for New Delhi. Free water. Reduced power rates. Free wi-fi. No corruption. Full Statehood. The list is quite long.
Whatever Modi achieves for India will percolate to Delhi anyway, so why not have a double bonanza? Modi for PM and Kejriwal for CM brought home like nothing else!
2. Kiran Bedi: This is a huge loss of face for BJP Chief Ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi. From 2013-15, the BJP held an edge in most of the opinion polls. However the moment Bedi was inducted into the party, the BJP fortunes fell.
After that the AAP took a lead and with each passing day, that lead got bigger and bigger as was shown successively in the opinion, exit polls and final results.
All this is really disheartening for Bedi because not only did the BJP Delhi unit reject her, but so did the people of Delhi.
3. Looked desperate: Modi in all his campaigns from 2002-14 has looked confident and in charge. He has always thundered at rallies and set his own agenda. The others followed his agenda. He always won.
However, this time Kejriwal set the agenda. Bedi was brought in to counter Kejriwal. The BJP attacked AAP instead of saying how they would improve Delhi. Modi tried to beat Kejriwal at his own game and lost heavily.
4. Weakest unit: Let’s face it, out of all the States that the BJP has in India, the Delhi unit is its worst and it is in absolute shambles there. The 1990s saw Madan Lal Khurana, Sahib Singh Verma and Sushma Swaraj come one by one.
That set the stage for Sheila Dikshit’s 15 years in power.
In 2013, Vijay Goel was sidelined at the last moment to make way for Dr Harsh Vardhan who was then kicked upstairs to the Union Cabinet.
Then again in 2015 at the last moment when people were guessing whether Jagdish Mukhi or Satish Upadhyaya would be CM candidate (there was even talk of Kirti Azad), Bedi was parachuted in. Looking at all this, it is no surprise that the BJP lost badly.
5. Last priority: In the 2014 elections, BJP won 7/7 Delhi Lok Sabha seats. Had Assembly elections been held immediately after, the BJP would have swept the State and finished off AAP and Kejriwal.
But then we had Maharashtra and Haryana Elections. Had the Delhi elections been held after that then maybe the BJP would have salvaged something, but then the focus shifted to Jharkhand and Jammu & Kashmir.
The BJP kept postponing the Delhi elections and there were even some reports that it had considered splitting the AAP to come to power. Kejriwal quit as CM in February 2014 and the elections took a whole year later!
It is quite difficult to win something which you make your last priority.
6. BJP diluted its brand: They got in Shazia Ilmi and Vinod Kumar Binny. Then to make matters worse, they got in Bedi. People would have well thought: What is the difference between BJP and AAP?
During the Lok Sabha elections, Modi stood out from all other politicians. However here the BJP Delhi unit looked like a copy of the AAP and hence the people decided to go in for the original.
7. AAP fighting for its life: Had the AAP lost this election, then it would have been curtains for the party and Kejriwal. They fought tooth and nail. They mobilized their support base and went all out to make sure their voters went out on the day of the elections.
The BJP has been sitting pretty with wins in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand with a good showing in Jammu & Kashmir. The hungrier party won.
8. The media: The mainstream media has been running a huge battle against Modi since 2002. So far Modi has got the better of them. That’s because their presence is marginal in Gujarat. English TV news channels have minimum presence all over India.
That’s why Modi has been winning the Gujarat Assembly elections and won the Lok Sabha elections with ease. However New Delhi is a different story altogether and it is their backyard. Even in 2013 the BJP was stalled and Arvind Kejriwal became Chief Minister in 2014.
Make no mistake about it: This is a big win of the media over Modi. But it will always be limited to Delhi.
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.