Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What went wrong for the BJP?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

If the results of the 2004 Lok Sabha polls were surprising for the BJP the results of the 2009 polls came as a rude shock. The party had not expected to sweep through the polls this time but didn't expect its tally to end up being almost half that of its arch rivals the Congress. The loss was not only in the number of seats but the saffron brigade lost a pie of their vote share across the nation barring a few states.

Poll analysts hadn't predicted a huge show by the BJP but felt that the part could emerge neck in neck with the Congress. With a recession hit economy, sky-rocketing inflation and Mumbai terror attacks some believed the tide was shifting towards the BJP just before the elctions. But alas the Indian voter thought otherwise and a pan Indian mood shattered LK Advan's dream of occupying 7, Race Course Road.

As the BJP tries to find out the reasons for its humiliation it will have the company of its arch rivals the Left Front who too are shell shocked. One thing common between both this parties has been they failed to understand the mood of the Indian voter. While BJP was in no mood to come out of the clutches of Babri Masjid and the RSS, the Left Front doesn't want to accept the fact that the Cold War has ended almost two decades ago and anti-Americanism doesn't appeal anymore.

BJP's campaign was centered around negativism and similar to what Pakistan has been doing for years. Our western neighbours have been time and again focussing on destroying us. Had they put in the same effort towards their development we could have had a better neighbour. BJP leadership hardly talked about development and believed in mud slinging and the results are here for us to see. The only states (Bihar, Chattisgarh) where they talked development they won handsomely.

The BJP leadership tried to point out the failure of the UPA government rather than focussing on their election manifesto which had so many developmental projects like linking of rivers, high speed internet connectivity, Rs 100000 fund for a girl child soon after her birth. Did the voters even know about these promises by the BJP camp. The answer is a 'NO'. Well how could they the BJP leaders were not even interested in talking about them. They were busy patronising a Varun Gandhi more than talking about developmental issues.

BJP failed to understand that fact the nation has moved from their Hindutva wave. People are more interested in jobs and a better future for their families than a Ram Temple being built in Ayodhya. The urban people like to practise religion as their personal subject rather than it be made a political compulsion by some party. They were unaware of the fact that a majority of Indians want peace in their everyday life rather than fight over the issue of a temple.

The absence of Atal Behari Vajpayee in the campaign process also cost the BJP. There is no better star campaigner for the party who appeals to all even people among the opposition camp. BJP also ignored the fact that India is a young country and there is a need to project young leaders. BJP only had a controversial Varun Gandhi while its opponent the Congress had an army under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi who created a huge impact in this election.

In the end it was a failed campaign for the Iron Man of Indian politics Advani whose dreams of occupying the highest chair will most probably remain unfulfilled. As for the party it will be an uphill task of rebuilding and bringing back to its past glory. If BJP wants to create an impact in 2014 it will have to start building itself from now. It wasted the 5 years between 2004 and 2009 in building strong leadership and the results are here for all of us to see.


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