Why BJP Lost to Aam Aadmi Party

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By Krishan Gupta

Arvind Kejriwal, who rebuilt the Aam Aadmi Party after it’s mauling in the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections, realized that BJP’s resorting to a negative campaign reduced the party to single digits in the 70-member assembly. A confused and divided BJP, which was riding high following the landslide victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections and consecutive wins in the assembly elections in four states, has been steamrolled by the two-year-old AAP in the Delhi Assembly Elections.

The BJP roped in 120 MPs, including several Central and Chief Ministers to target AAP and Kejriwal but the plan instead backfired. Kejriwal was called bhagoda (runaway) and dharna expert which sent out the message that the party was only interested in name calling. BJP published cartoons in newspapers on the U-turns by Kejriwal and it hit the lowest point when the party called him belonging to the ‘updravi gothra’. The BJP also asked 35 questions to Kejriwal on U-turns made by him on his poll promises and targeting him for leaving the government in 49 days.

BJP’s plan to target Kejriwal on every issue and from all angles made him the tallest leader. Kiran Bedi tweeted her own 25-point project for Delhi and it resulted in her party belatedly coming out with a vision document for the national capital. In a huge blunder, the party in its vision document called people from North East ‘immigrants’. The result was similar to that the of Lok Sabha elections wherein Modi was targeted by all the parties and he single-handedly took them on. BJP President Amit Shah inducted former IPS officer Kiran Bedi to take on Kejriwal but the plan failed and she lost from the party’s stronghold constituency Krishna Nagar.

The coming in of new faces, sidelining of old-timers and declining them ticket resulted in fierce infighting within the party which was already badly divided. The situation turned worse as party workers carried out protests outside Delhi unit office and some of them even contested as Independents. Instead of going as a united body, the BJP looked like a divided front in Delhi polls. Kejriwal’s ‘Aam Aadmi’ image wearing a muffler gave more assurance to people that he will work for them. The BJP leaders only targeted the AAP and Kejriwal, and did not focus on any local issue which concerned the common Delhiite. The four rallies addressed by Modi a week before elections saw meager crowds where he did not address any local issue or lay down the development plan for the national capital. On the other hand, the AAP’s campaign was more mature, focusing of local issues like water, electricity, corruption, and price rise and women security.

The BJP, however, failed to read the mood of the people for whom basic necessities matter the most. The party’s inability to fulfil its tall promises made during the Lok Sabha elections on black money, ‘Acche Din Aaenge’ (good days ahead), price rise cost the party dearly. Not witnessing much work done by the Narendra Modi government on development front and the growing corruption in the BJP-ruled Municipal Corporation of Delhi, inflated water and electricity bills, people showed their anger by voting against the BJP in Delhi polls.

Even though Kejriwal fared badly when he made his political debut on the national platform in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, he realized his blunder and devoted all his energy and resources for over six months to lay the road map for success in Delhi by working on the ground. Modi’s MPs who were allegedly forcing people to convert into Hinduism across the country and calling it ‘Ghar Wapsi’ created a lot of anger amongst the people. He also failed to curb attacks on Church hurting the sentiment of Christians which resulted in the alienation of voters. His MPs also went on to the extent of asking Hindu women to produce four children or 10 children in order to protect the religion.