Is BJP Ready for Hard Times Ahead Post Shaheen Bagh Model’s Win?
Testing times ahead for the BJP as ‘Shaheen Bagh model’ will likely get replicated at other places.
Delhi election results prove yet again that voters discriminate between local, state and national elections clearly. Since 2013, Delhi has elected the BJP in national elections but preferred the AAP in local elections. This is, infact, the trend in other state elections, too.
However, it can have other implications as well. That is, voters clearly prefer Narendra Modi as Prime Minister, but are ready for experimenting with other leaders if they are not happy with regional BJP leaders. People have higher expectations from the BJP and it is always under microscope, while opposition can win by default even with poorer track record.
Multiple Flaws in BJP’s Delhi Campaign
Coming back to Delhi, it is a small city state. It needed the BJP to plan as a city party. It needed to project a mayor for a city state. While opposition had a clear face with a solid vote bank, BJP asked for votes without any “mayor”. It was a major flaw. Local leadership of BJP seemed to have already given up, till Amit Shah made it into a fight. You can’t throw out a populist CM only with rhetoric in a two-week-long campaign. The BJP needs to project a leader to gain its place in next five years.
That Shaheen Bagh blockade turned out to be a non issue may be a surprise for BJP leaders. But voter seemed to have discriminated between national and local self interest.
Opinion polls showed heavy support for CAA but same voters seemed to have put more faith in the AAP on issues of Delhi as seen in opinion polls. Whether right or wrong, this is how voters saw it.
Shaheen Bagh Sit-In Propped on Propaganda
It is a travesty that many commentators see AAP win as a validation of Shaheen Bagh sit-in. Shaheen Bagh shows how an agitation can be propped up on misrepresentation of facts, falsehood and propaganda. Shaheen Bagh was a cover up to give a sheen of respectability to Jihadi elements who had let loose violence in the name of anti-CAA protests.
They claimed it was against Muslims, that they would be thrown out of India. The leaders knew well that its utter falsehood. This agitation saw most poisonous hate mongering but critics blame it on the BJP. Secular style of narrative creation hasn’t changed.
Congress’s Harakiri Just to Stop the BJP
An important political development during this Delhi polls was that the Congress abdicated its role as the third biggest party that had ruled Delhi for 15 years till recently. Congress‘s history tells us that wherever it has decided to abdicate its position, it has been relegated to the margins. Entire North East, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, central and most of southern India are witness to this erosion. But, it fell for its short term objective of stopping the BJP. It’s leadership forgets that as a family party it cannot survive well without power, the BJP as a cadre based party can afford to wait.
Delhi is a small city state, but this election came at a time when CAA has created a churn in the nation. It has fanned the ambitions of AAP to go national. Dilemma for opposition is which party will form the axis of this opposition that sees green shoots in this election. Congress lacks leadership with vision. By ejecting its best brains, the AAP has been left with very few leaders who have national vision and intellect. Can Kejriwal spread himself so thin? He will be wary after last failed experiment.
Coming few years will be very turbulent. Last five years saw very bitter criticism of the BJP, creation of an environment of perceived intolerance, irrespective of any policy. Furthermore, past six months have seen violence as a tool, creating a sense of siege with Shaheen Bagh model. I see testing times ahead.
(Ratan Sharda is an author, columnist, editor and well known TV panelist. He has four books on RSS to his credit and fifth is in pipeline. He has done PhD on RSS analysing its Resolutions passed during national conventions. He can be reached @RatanSharda55. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
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