BJP’s negative campaign and Congress leadership crisis being blamed for its crushing defeat
New Delhi: The national headquarters of the Congress, India’s grand old party, was predictably deserted on Tuesday afternoon as television anchors began screaming their lungs out to report the pathetic performance of the party across 70 Assembly seats in Delhi.
As results were announced — 67 out of 70 for the Arvind Kejriwal-run Aam Aadmi Party, three for the ruling Modi-obsessed Bharatiya Janata Party and a big zero for Sonia-Rahul’s Congress party, it became clear that the AAP had got a chunk of the power pie, leaving only crumbs for the opposition. The international media described the Delhi poll results as a “political earthquake” and senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad had no choice but to accept that the defeat of the party had been “zabardast.” (too strong)
The man on the street said that BJP’s negative campaign had gone against it and left voters no option but to give former Delhi Chief Minister a second chance to govern in the national capital. As for the Congress, most people don’t seem to take the party vice-president Rahul Gandhi seriously.
On Tuesday noon, the mood outside the office of the vanquished parties was somber, almost close to that of mourning. Barring television crews and a few journalists, nobody was really visible at the Congress national headquarters on Akbar Road. The only two leaders who could be sighted were veteran Congress leader Moti Lal Vohra and the General Secretary in charge of Delhi, P.C. Chacko.
The scene at the office of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party on Ashoka Road, was not very different. There was a traffic jam on Ashoka Road as a large number of OB vans and media vehicles were parked in front of the BJP office. Pedestrians had a tough time walking as television cables were running all over the pavement in front of the office.
On the ground inside the BJP office, sound bites were being offered from eight makeshift tent studios by a few BJP leaders, prominent among whom were BJP National Spokesperson Nalin Kohli, Member of Parliament from North-west Delhi Udit Raj and former AAP activist Shazia Ilmi recently.
Clad in a silk kurta and a long colourful skirt, Ilmi looked bright in her crimson lip stick but sounded bitter as she tried hard to defend herself from political attacks. With her ears plugged for the live television interview, Ilmi, a former news anchor, was speaking in high pitch to a television channel, “It is so sad that you are attacking me. I was part of the Anna Hazare movement when Aam Aadmi Party was not even part of anybody’s figment of imagination….. You can say what you want to and have a lot of fun and extrapolate. When you lose, you have no friends. When you win, you have no enemies,’’ she said philosophically.
At the BJP office, only security personnel and mediapersons could be spotted. No party workers were in sight. There were no takers even for a free meal. The leaders entrusted with the unhappy task of giving sound bites looked dis-spirited. The TV screens facing each makeshift tent studio was beaming results that were clearly a jolt to the BJP leaders who were expected to analyse voting trends. And when news came that their chief ministerial candidate and India’s first woman IPS officer had not been able to win from Krisha Nagar constituency, a safe seat, the saffron citadel almost seemed to collapse. I was reminded of what a senior Congress leader Rita Bahaguna Joshi told a television channel earlier in the day, “The Delhi poll results are a defeat of Modi-ism”
Interestingly, the Congress did not seem as bothered about its own humiliating defeat as that of BJP’s dismal performance. P.C. Chacko, General Secretary in charge of Delhi, was quick to point out that the anger of the people is much more against the BJP than against the Congress. “We accept defeat with all humility. The BJP lost the election because of their negative campaign, their arrogance and for changing horses mid-stream.”
Likewise, senior BJP leader Nalin Kohli, while accepting his party’s “defeat with humility,” did not lose the opportunity to point a finger at the Congress saying, “The Congress ruled Delhi for 15 years but did not get a single seat. This should be a source of worry for the Congress which is the nation’s oldest party.”
Dr Pratyush Nandan, President of the Student Wing of Janata Dal (United), said that the Modi rath (chariot) has come to a halt. Enumerating Modi’s three electoral victories in Gujarat and BJP’s subsequent victories in Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, his election as Prime Minister, Dr Nandan said, “Under his leadership, the BJP won elections in Haryana, Jharkhand and Maharashtra in 2014. But, the results of Delhi polls should make the BJP pause and think about the testing times ahead when it will test its political fortunes in Assembly elections in Bihar six months from now, the West Bengal Assembly polls in 2016 and the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls in 2017.”