Seeking to give a boost to the BJP's assembly election campaign in Delhi, the saffron party brought out its big gun, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as its star campaigner. But looks like it didn't help, with Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP registering a stupendous win in Assembly polls, it now seems appears certain that the 'broom' is set to retain power while BJP might have to remain content with minor increment in its tally.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed rallies in Dwarka, Karkardoom and Shahdara areas. Karkardooma is spread out over two constituencies — Vishwas Nagar and Shahdara. Modi who addressed rallies in 3 assemblies out of which BJP lost in 2, while won 1.
Of these 3 assembly seats, the BJP won just 1 seat, with vote share of 52.57 percent in Vishwas Nagar. While the saffron party lost in Shahdara and Dwarka, with vote share of 45.31 percent and 41.53 percent respectively. Narendra Modi's poor strike rate puts a big question mark on the BJP’s strategy.
Even as the BJP had declared its intent to go into the elections with Modi as its face and its poll slogan read 'Dilli Chale Modi ke Saath' (Delhi is with Modi), the party showed a visible hesitation in making Modi the lead campaigner. While the initial promise was of Modi being the BJP's face in the elections, it was Union Home Minister Amit Shah who has been helming the party's Delhi campaign.
There is some consolation for the BJP leadership as the party has managed to increase its vote share to nearly 39%, a gain of 7 percentage points from 2015. The bigger problem for the national ruling party is that Delhi will be the third assembly election that it could lose after coming to power with a bigger mandate in May 2019.
The BJP has fought few state elections in recent times with such organisational firepower and ideological fervour as it did the Delhi polls, but this all came to nought as the party suffered a big loss, a defeat that continues its poor run in state elections since 2018. The only consolation for the party, which several of its leaders keenly pointed out, is that its vote share increased to more than 38 per cent this time from 32 in 2015. This is the most votes it has got in the city after it came to power in 1993 with nearly 48 per cent votes.
The loss will rankle more with the BJP's ranks as its entire organisational might led by home minister and its former president Amit Shah worked overtime to oust the AAP from power. Over 300 of its MPs, including several Union ministers, intensively campaigned in the city's 70 assembly constituencies but in vain.
The BJP's biggest drawback, many believe, was a lack of credible local leadership to take on Kejriwal, who enjoyed unmatched advantage in this regard. With Modi as its face in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the party had won near 57 per cent votes and bagged all seven seats. Its initial assessment suggests that the party's campaign swayed a sizeable chunk of middle class voters but failed to counter its rival's appeal among the poor and lower middle class.
Since 2018, the BJP has failed to win a majority in any of the state polls. It lost power in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in 2018 followed by Maharashtra and Jharkhand. The party managed to form government in Karnataka by winning over opposition MLAs and in Haryana by allying with a regional party. The huge gap in BJP's votes in the Lok Sabha and assembly polls in states like Jharkhand, Haryana and now in Delhi makes it clear that a large number of its voters have switched their preference in regional elections.