After stunning victory of BJP inDelhiin Parliamentary Election in May, 2014 where it won all the 7 seats, BJP got decimated in Delhi Assembly Election to just 3 out of 70 seats just in a short time span of eight months. What really went wrong against BJP and in favour of APP in Jan, 2015 Delhi Election that it gave an unexpected result?
The broad analysis shows that BJP lost only its 0.87% votes compared to previous Delhi Assembly Election in 2013. However, 14.85% votes of Congress and 9.5% votes of Independent and other parties shifted towards AAP giving it unprecedented massive victory. Hard core followers of political parties always adhere to party lines, but loosely connected followers or neutral voter change their stand on dynamic perception of party, its top leadership, its changing vision and agenda. What a common man without any affiliation or leaning to a particular political party would have thought of about deciding to vote for or against BJP.
After fractured mandate of Delhi Assembly Election in 2013, AAP formed the government and after ruling for 49 days AAP government resigned from power stating the reason of not having full mandate to pass key legislations. APP was labelled as absconder political party. BJP inordinately delayed the elections for no plausible reason. This gave two impressions to voters; one, BJP wants to have a proxy rule through President’s rule, other, BJP wants to punish the people of Delhi for not giving BJP a clear mandate by not providing an elected government to people of Delhi who were desperate to have a new government after replacing Congress government. People felt that they are being made to realize that if they do not give clear mandate to BJP, an absconder party like APP will come in power, and they will meet this fate. In this perception of voters, AAP got sympathy of voters, and more so when Arvind Kejriwal humbly accepted his mistake in public.
In the last moment before election, some of the break away members of AAP joined BJP with lot of fun and fare and media attention that reflected a perception among voters that BJP is devoid of credible members in its party at Delhi. Had this incident of AAP members joining BJP been a low key affair, it would have given a different meaning and perception that BJP is a better party than APP. This perception that BJP is devoid of credible leaders was further heightened when Kiran Bedi was declared CM candidate at last moment of Election. This undermined the power and strength of BJP as well as Modi. People ofDelhiknew very well Kiran Bedi as a police officer and it signified that entire Delhi BJP is devoid of competent leaders. It not only demoralized old veteran leaders of Delhi BJP but also the supporters of BJP. In this background, BJP got decimated in public perception before election.
BJP led by Modi got a massive mandate in 2014 parliamentary election on development issues, good governance, anti-corruption, and development for all. And there is no doubt that Modi government is making an all out efforts to achieve the same. But, in the meanwhile RSS, VHP, Bajarang Dal etc and some the members of BJP started Ghar Vapasi programme, voicing against love jihad, defining Hinduism as every one inIndia is Hindu irrespective of one’s professed religion. Even communal statements by some of the BJP leaders were issued. This was further aggravated by attack on churches. Despite the good work done by BJP at centre, media drew more attention to these incidents rather than good work done by PM Modi. This gave perception among majority that BJP has deviated from its main agenda of good governance and development, and among minority it gave perception that BJP is fulfilling its hidden agenda of Hindutva. This communal perception among minorities was further strengthened when Obama during his public speech on 27th January at Siri Fort raised the issue of religious intolerance inIndia which went against Modi and BJP. So, voter by and large started feeling cheated by BJP. Some of the loosely linked voters of other parties and minority voters en block shifted to AAP.
The scathing attack on Arvind Kejriwal as absconder, naxalite, mere protester and not inviting him on Republic Day parade projected BJP as arrogant and voters sympathised with Arvind Kejriwal. This perception was further fuelled by false media campaign against Modi’s suit where his name was woven as stripe to be a very expensive gift received by Modi contrary to his image. This gave a perception among voters that BJP is behaving arrogantly, and they wanted to teach a lesson to BJP.
There was discernible apathy of Congress in 2015 Delhi Assembly Election. Many of its prominent leaders did not contest the election. Their election campaign was also lack lustre. This made votes of Congress Party eroded en block, and this eroded votes shifted to AAP increasing the margin of victory in favour of AAP.
AAP had strategic depth in election campaign. AAP has its deep roots in low and lower middle class income group who has sizable population inDelhi. Most of the followers and sympathizers of AAP have been its campaigners also that increased the effectiveness of its election campaign.
Modi government has tightened the bureaucracy inDelhias a measure of good governance, which most of the government officials did not like. This made some of the government employees who were the old followers of BJP and Modi to switch over to AAP.
Moreover, voters are impatient and want quick result in the governance as per their aspirations which are not possible in short span of 8 months if somebody is working on improving fundamentals of economy and governance and not simply disbursing subsidies to appease a section of voters. Though Modi government has done a lot of outstanding work in that direction, but its result will be visible only after 2 to 3 three years in many of the cases. Perhaps BJP was not able to convey the message of its good work done to voters in low and lower medium income group.
All these points collectively worked against BJP that resulted in massive loss to BJP in securing seats. Now it will be an uphill task for BJP to make a new strategy to convince voters in forthcoming elections in Bihar,West Bengaland U P to vote in their favour.