5 Big Mistakes That Led to Modi-Shah’s BJP Losing Delhi Elections

With a poor show in Delhi, it is time for the BJP to rethink and reassess where it went wrong.

3 min read

As the counting of votes of the 2020 Delhi Elections began, trends showed a major victory for the Aam Aadmi Party which is expected to win 63 seats. The BJP, meanwhile, managed to secure just seven seats.

With such results coming after aggressive posturing from leaders like Manoj Tiwari, who had predicted a landslide win for the BJP, it is imperative that the party reassess and revisit its strategy.

Here’s a list of the five key takeaways for the BJP from the Delhi Election results.


1. Focus on National Issues Over Local Issues

The BJP’s campaign in Delhi mostly revolved around issues like national security, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and National Register of Citizens (NRC). The AAP’s campaign, however, focused on local issues, including providing free electricity, water and improving the infrastructure of Delhi government schools.

AAP’s win shows that there has been a clear victory of the micro-level issues. The BJP needs to ensure that their large narratives do not end up being too abstract and distant for the common voters, who want policies to translate into tangible improvement in their lives.

2. Lack of a Chief Minister Face

Another strategy that majorly backfired for the BJP was not having a chief ministerial candidate for Delhi. Without a clear leader being projected, the party seemed to be relying too much on its image than actual candidates. This is something that the AAP did not fail to capitalise on.

"I ask BJP to declare CM candidate and I am ready to debate with him at any place. There should be public debate in front of all TV channels." Kejriwal had said, as the AAP launched a ‘Kejriwal vs who?’ campaign.

For a party that takes every opportunity to assert its strength, it was an out-of-character move for the BJP to not respond to this challenge. The party continued to believe that the ‘Modi wave’ would carry them through, but it would be unwise of them to assume that this would work, always.


3.Over Dependence on Modi-Shah Combine

The lack of popular, local faces meant that the BJP relied too much on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, a strategy that failed to win them much goodwill from the voters of Delhi.

Compared to the multifaceted leadership of the AAP, BJP’s power concentration prevented any local leaders from gaining much power and influence, which translated into less reliability on the candidates who were actually nominated.

A key takeaway for the BJP from this election would be to have systematic power delegation among local and state-level leaders, to prevent too much power concentration among the upper echelons of the party leadership.

4. Exhausting the ‘Nationalism’ Issue

The BJP’s spiel of nationalism seems to have been exhausted, and did not gain them any new voters. Most of the targeted policies of the party focused on their ‘Hindutva’-driven, hyper-nationalistic narrative, something that led to a fatigue in their political discourse.

The lack of nuance in their discussion, no extension of arguments and a stagnation in their rhetoric, meant that the BJP lost out in an election where local issues and grassroots-level policies were seen as primary.

Many political parties have called out the BJP’s over-reliance on nationalism, and it is time the party ponders if this is doing them more harm than good.


5. ‘Shaheen Bagh’, ‘Bullets’ Won’t Work

The protest at Shaheen Bagh was an issue that gained much hype in the elections, and the BJP specifically used the matter to try to polarise voters. From the ‘goli maaro’ chants to Amit Shah’s comment on how the ‘current’ of votes would drive protesters away, the BJP tried its best to polarise the voter base.

However, as the numbers now prove, this rhetoric did not work. Voters seem to have discerned that the binary divisions the BJP was trying to draw were actually not true, and all the attempts at polarisation did not yield any results.

The BJP has faced flak from their opponents about this kind of politics, and voters too have called them out. It is time that they get a new, improved strategy, as this pitch simply did not work.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!