Modi and the Delhi Debacle: Causes and Consequences
As Prime Minister Modi and the BJP reflect on their worst electoral disaster ever since the glory of the Lok Sabha elections of 2014 followed with a string of superb electoral victories in five states across India, it is indeed time for stock taking. The magnitude of the BJP’s defeat in Delhi can be estimated from the fact that from a seemingly unassailable 60:10 lead in assembly segments during the Lok Sabha elections merely 9 months back, it has now been reduced to 3 seats.
The humiliation was complete with the loss of Kiran Bedi in Krishna Nagar, one of the safest seats for the BJP which Dr. Harshvardhan, the former CM candidate and current MP from Chandi Chowk had won last time with a huge margin of 33,000 votes. Although the BJP retained its traditional 33% vote, the absolute meltdown of the Congress and smaller players meant the AAP leapfrogged ahead with a 21% lead in voteshare.
Despite an avalanche of op-eds in the coming days which will pontificate on the same, objective analysis of the reasons for BJP’s Delhi debacle will be largely unmet since political commentators suffer from their own political and personal inclinations apart from their ideological biases and this trend runs across the political spectrum. So while blaming the Hindutva fringe for politics of Ghar Wapsi and Love Jihad and the BJP’s loss will be the most fashionable byline of ‘secular’ op-eds, one will find sections of BJP’s economic right subscribe to the same.
Similarly, a segment of the BJP’s support base will blame the acerbic and allegedly mendacious reporting of the mainstream media which has historically no love lost for it. The economic right will further blame the slow pace of reforms. The economic left represented by communists, socialists and the BJP’s own Swadeshi unions will blame the pro reform anti socialist orientation of the government. A minor Hindu cultural right will allude to continued Hindu victimhood across India and the lack of any coherent nationalist strategy in eliminating anti Hindu biases in the establishment, educational curriculum and law. Some analysts might blame the inimitable palette of freebies which Kejriwal had to offer, Kiran Bedi’s induction as chief ministerial candidate at the late hour, MCD’s poor performance and the infighting and nepotism within the BJP state unit.
However, I contend that all such factors were minor, inadequate or even inconsequential in BJP’s defeat. A constellation of such factors did not ultimately lead to this defeat although they could possibly have contributed to its sheer scale and magnitude. There are just two prime reasons for Delhi becoming BJP mukta; BJP’s juvenile electoral strategy for a peculiar state like Delhi and the ability of the AAP to perfectly bond with the poor and lower middle classes that could identify with them while succeeding in portraying the BJP as a party representing the interests of the industrialists and the privileged economically affluent classes.