Delhi debacle

BJP’s divisive agenda rejected by voters

Delhi debacle

A PARTY that won over 300 Lok Sabha seats last year used all its might to wrest control of a 70-seat Assembly — but in vain. The BJP’s second successive rout in the state elections of Delhi is a massive rejection of its divisive campaign that revolved around negativity and hatred. The plank of national security had worked wonders for the party in the 2019 parliamentary elections, which took place months after the Pulwama terror attack and the Balakot airstrike. The BJP unreasonably tried to extrapolate this template to the state polls, invoking the abrogation of Article 370 and the ‘anti-national’ protests at Shaheen Bagh, and even dragged Pakistan into the discourse. One of their candidates, Kapil Mishra, equated the Assembly electoral battle with an ‘India vs Pakistan’ clash.

This desperation betrayed the party’s disconnect with the people of Delhi despite having swept all Lok Sabha seats in the Capital last year. The ruling party at the Centre neither projected a CM face nor came up with a concrete road map to address local issues. The leaders who delivered incendiary speeches didn’t even get a rap on the knuckles from the top brass. BJP MP Parvesh Verma dubbed Arvind Kejriwal a terrorist, a throwback to the ‘AK-49’ label the then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi had given to his Delhi counterpart ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Such name-calling was like water off a duck’s back for Delhi’s voters, who preferred the basics to theatrics.

Assembly and parliamentary polls are poles apart. This electoral truism was hammered home by the voters of Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand over the past year or so, but the BJP didn’t bother to learn any lesson. The behemoth miserably failed to position itself as a viable alternative to the fledgling Aam Aadmi Party. Its attempts to provoke AAP to take an unambiguous stand on the CAA-NRC came a cropper as Kejriwal astutely stuck to the development agenda, virtually appropriating PM Modi’s mantra of ‘minimum government, maximum governance’. With a misplaced Plan A and no Plan B, the BJP’s crushing defeat was inevitable.

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