The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has lost Delhi state elections and it’s certainly time for the BJP leadership to do some serious introspection on why after sweeping win in the Lok Sabha elections in mid-2019, they have not received the same support at state elections in Delhi. BJP had won all seven seats of Delhi in the 2019 General Elections.
It is worth thinking about why Delhi’s electorate changed its mind in less than a year. The BJP leadership at the state level in Delhi should do some serious introspection and compare the results of 2015 and 2020 elections. After an incredible Lok Sabha victory in 2014, they lost badly in 2015. The story is no different between 2019 Lok Sabha elections and the 2020 Delhi State elections. Of the 70 Delhi Assembly seats Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won 62 seats and BJP could manage to win in only 8 constituencies.
Clearly, the electorate knows their mind and they know what they want from their politicians at the National level and at the State level. Yes, the people have huge expectations from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his team for the country. They have similar expectations from their local leaders, but in matters that affect their daily lives.
They want the infrastructure in their community and town to be as they expect. They want their local politician to address and resolve these challenges. Mr Kejriwal and his party did a lot of work for Delhi over the past 5 years and this did not go unnoticed. Running down or challenging achievements in education and healthcare was a poor strategy of the BJP. The electorate did not believe the BJP leaders.
Let us look at some reasons why the BJP is consistently losing elections in most of the states.
National Issues are different from State Issues
National Security is critical and every step taken by the Prime Minister has been supported and applauded by the people. At the state elections, people do not want to hear about Pakistan bashing or the achievements of the country in international arena.
Matters like the revocation of Article 370 and Article 35A are important for the nation. However, these are not for discussion at the state level.
State Politicians need to deliver
The central government needs the support of states. Politicians at the state need to deliver in their constituencies. The BJP leadership at the state level must learn to win elections on their own and stop relying only on the senior most leaders. State politicians must realize that they are fighting the assembly elections and not for the Lok Sabha. Therefore, they need to depend on their work and not that of the central government. The state leaders must work to strengthen the hands of the Prime Minister and not constantly look for a free ride. They should bring in the big guns for support and not to win the elections.
If people want good health and good education, is it unreasonable? If they want a pollution free Delhi, they expect work to be done. If the electorate wants free electricity and free water, then so be it.
The electorate understands the capabilities of the Prime Minister and his team. However, when they hear their local leaders wax eloquent on national issues without bothering to talk of local issues, they know these politicians are simply not delivering what is expected of them.
Alliance Partners of the NDA must be taken into confidence in every election even if it means that the BJP has to lose a battle to win the war. The alliance partners know that the BJP is a strong party and yet they also know that they play a vital role in BJP’s plans at the state level. Alienating alliance partner just before state elections can never be a wise strategy and this normally starts with the bravado of the local state level leaders of the BJP.
Unless the BJP can carry its partners, they will continue to bite the dust as is evident from Maharashtra.
Loudmouths of the BJP need to be told to shut up before every election. The people are tired of the unnecessary rhetoric from some BJP leaders. They need to be told to stay quiet if they do not have anything constructive to say. Negative statements are not supported by anyone (though the politician who makes such statements may get some applause from the community they are addressing).
Abusive language is not respected by anyone in India. Why do junior BJP politicians not see and learn from the dignity of their senior leaders? Such loud mouths do more harm than good to BJP’s campaign.
BJP’s Communication must improve. Traditionally, the communication of BJP has been very poor. The spokespersons are the same for national issues and state issues who keep pushing the national agenda in all debates without understanding the challenges. If the discussion is about the state elections, the BJP spokespersons will try and manoeuvre the debate to a national issue. BJP needs a separate set of leaders who will address national issues and state issues. The BJP cannot have the same set of spokespersons on every channel on every issue.
Citizens Amendment Act (CAA)
The CAA has cleverly been morphed into National Population Register (NPR) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), and BJP has not been able to communicate the difference clearly. Varying comments from central leadership is also being used very effectively by the opposition leaders who have very successfully managed to confuse the masses.
For the moment, the BJP can take some comfort from the fact that their vote share has increased in the Delhi elections but unless they change fast, the next round of state elections will have a similar sad story for the BJP.
The Prime Minister spoke of the report card of his government during the Lok Sabha elections and he was given a resounding mandate. What applies at the centre applies equally at the state.
BJP’s state leaders must show their report card and not that of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi or that of the BJP Government at the Centre.
Unless the BJP is in power in States, they will find it increasingly difficult to implement their plans and policies.
The harsh truth is that no one remembers who came second.